Making Medication Free for Those in Need

Mar 15, 2013
Know someone who needs help with medication costs? Patients can obtain free medicines through Patient Assistance Programs managed by Express Scripts.

Getting diagnosed with a chronic or complex condition is stressful and scary to say the least. So imagine what it's like for someone in that situation who is uninsured or underinsured. 

Medications for conditions such as cancer or HIV can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, a financial burden for most patients – even those with an employer or health plan paying a big portion of it.

For patients who cannot afford their medications, Patient Assistance Programs can mean the difference between life and death.

United BioSource Corporation, a subsidiary of Express Scripts, manages PAPs for many pharmaceutical clients for a range of products from maintenance medications for conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, to specialty drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerois and some cancers.

Patients with a prescription who meet these criteria can apply to receive free medication through manufacturers’ PAPs.

One Year, 1 Million Patients

Last year alone, 1.1 million patients applied for medication through PAPs managed by UBC, which spanned 330 medications from 24 pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Eligibility for PAPs varies according to therapy and manufacturer and is based on the patient’s income relative to the federal poverty limit, household size and access to other prescription-drug coverage.

Express Scripts helps patients through the application process and determines patient eligibility. We also help identify alternate sources of funding such as state Medicaid programs, foundations and faith-based organizations. When a patient is approved for a PAP, we either fill and send the prescription directly to the patient or ship the medication to the doctor for distribution. Within the Express Scripts Technology & Innovation Center, there is a dedicated area of the pharmacy to dispense medication for PAPs.

The pharmacy ships approximately 8,000 orders of free medication every day, works with more than 400,000 physicians and has conducted more than 400,000 alternate funding searches for patients.

Making Tough Decision a Little Easier

With healthcare costs spiraling, for an uninsured patient – or one with limited financial means – needing medication can often mean the choice among paying their bills, buying food or buying medications. Our programs help alleviate the burden of that tough decision.

The program's impact does not go unnoticed, and our employees often receive calls and notes of thanks from the patients we help. We all have either been through difficult times in our lives or have friends, family and loved ones who have.

The work that UBC does in administering and optimizing PAPs provides medications to patients that otherwise would have nowhere to go. With PAPs, we can make a real difference in patient lives.

Author Bio

Kevin Cast
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