Everything you should know about patient assistance programs.

Are you unable to afford your prescription medication? Pharmaceutical companies, state governments, and non-profit organizations offer different patient assistance programs that could help out. Here are some things you should know about each type of program.

PAPs offered by pharmaceutical companies

These programs usually require that a patient send their application to the specific drug manufacturer, providing details about their condition and financial situation. For most programs, the application form can be accessed over the internet, specifically through the company’s address.

Many programs require some contribution from your doctor, such as requiring them to provide information about your prescription, as well as corroborating any documents that may be attached. They may also be required to sign certain parts of the form for authenticity.

Your application will be reviewed, with the company informing you of your eligibility. Most programs will mail the medication directly to your preferred address, or to your doctor’s office. A few PAPs may mail a certificate, which would then be presented to your pharmacy of choice.

Depending on the program’s terms, either you or your doctor may need to make an application before your supply is diminished.

State pharmaceutical assistance programs

Some states offer patient assistance programs, which usually target the disabled, elderly or those in dire financial situations. Many states also offer assistance to all patients suffering from specific conditions such as end-stage kidney diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Some states may combine their programs with Medicare’s Part D, which also offers discounted prescription costs. Some states may require you to sign up for Part D before seeking prescription assistance services.

PAPs run by non-profit organizations

There are some assistance programs offered by non-profit organizations.

RxHope, RxAssist, and RxOutreach are internet-based resources that help people access medication, as well as legitimate information about patient assistance. RxHope and RxAssist offer databases to help patients find their preferred assistance programs, as well as guiding them through the application process. RxOutreach offers help to people without insurance.

NeedyMeds provides one of the most extensive databases about patient assistance available on the internet, with detailed information about how to apply for each one.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is sponsored by civic groups, patient advocacy programs, doctors and pharmaceutical companies to help uninsured and low-income patients access to brand-name medications at little or no cost.

Prescription discount cards

A few pharmaceutical companies, retail pharmacies, states, and non-profit organizations have made discount cards available for people who cannot afford their medication. While some are free, most require that applicants pay a monthly or annual stipend.

You should research into your preferred discount card before paying to make sure that the cost of purchase does not exceed any discounts offered. You should also be wary of fake discount cards offered by fraudulent persons.

Finding the right program

If you are prescribed to several medications or are unsure about the best option for you, you could find help through various online databases that provide extensive information on every program.