GLAXO’s INDIGENT PROGRAM HAS AIDED OVER 2,000 PATIENTS IN FIRST HALF OF 1992
GLAXO's INDIGENT PROGRAM HAS AIDED OVER 2,000 PATIENTS IN FIRST HALF OF 1992 with giveaways of drug products. Glaxo reported that it has already provided free medicines to more patients than the 2,000 requests it met in all of 1991. The firm said its 1991 giveaways totaled roughly $1 mil. in value. Information on Glaxo's "Indigent Patient Program" is contained in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association's "1992 Directory of Prescription Drug Indigent Programs." Glaxo's program covers all of its products. The company determines a patient's eligibility for assistance based on information provided by physicians. Criteria for eligibility include that the patient must be receiving outpatient care, be "medically indigent" and not eligible for any third-party drug reimbursement. Additionally, the patient's physician must agree to waive his or her fee. Glaxo said it has granted "virtually all" requests received under the program, which has been in place since 1984. Glaxo's program is one of 59 initiatives run by 44 companies listed in PMA's directory. The association has printed 50,000 copies which will be distributed primarily to physician and nursing groups and also to consumer groups, PMA announced July 24. The PMA directory confirms the impression that, like Glaxo, most major drug companies make their products available free on a case-by-case basis to indigent out-patients. Other firms with similar giveaway plans include: Lederle, Burroughs Wellcome, Ciba- Geigy, Lilly, Marion Merrell Dow, Merck, Miles, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Schering-Plough, SmithKline Beecham and Upjohn. In recent years, several companies have publicized their individual access programs, especially in the cardiovascualar and AIDS areas. Most firms' indigent programs, however, tend to be less well known. At the American Heart Association meeting in November, AHA Past President Harriet Dustan, MD, called on PMA to publicize member companies' indigent access programs ("The Pink Sheet" Nov. 25, 1991, T&G-2). Sen. Pryor's (D-Ark.) Aging Committee began compiling its own directory of such programs earlier this year ("The Pink Sheet" Apr. 13, T&G-2). The committee directory is expected to be completed very shortly. The PMA board approved its directory project during the association's May annual meeting and began a survey of member companies ("The Pink Sheet" May 18, p. 6). The board had earlier formed a "Task Force on Access" to address the issue. To publicize the directory, PMA is asking the professional groups to include notices in their publications of availability of the directory and to publish a toll-free telephone hotline number operated by the association. "The directory and hotline are for physician use only," PMA advised, "since prescription drugs can only be supplied based on medical information from doctors." While the indigent assistance programs "of America's pharmaceutical research companies are an indispensable safety net for the neediest patients," the directory's introduction comments, "they cannot be expected to solve the larger national problem of access to medical care, including prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry will continue to work cooperatively with those seeking public and private sector solutions to these larger problems."
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