PFIZER SINGLE-SOURCE Rx DRUGS WILL BE FREE FOR UP TO 1 MIL.
PFIZER SINGLE-SOURCE Rx DRUGS WILL BE FREE FOR UP TO 1 MIL. low-income patients through community, migrant and homeless health centers under Pfizer's "Sharing the Care" program. Intended for patients living at or below the poverty line in all 50 states, the Pfizer program was scheduled to be announced Aug. 14 at the National Governors' Association annual meeting in Tulsa, Okla. First-year costs, including program startup expenditures, are estimated by Pfizer at $10 mil.-$12 mil. The program is sponsored jointly by Pfizer, NGA and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). In a press statement, Pfizer Vice Chairman Edward Bessey, president of the firm's U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group, said the program's use of approximately 340 health centers enables Pfizer to "get our medicines to impoverished patients in urban and rural areas now, while the plan for reforming the U.S. health care system takes shape." It is estimated that 500,000 to 1 mil. patients at or below the poverty line but ineligible for Medicaid will benefit from the program in its first year. The program expands earlier Pfizer-NGA efforts to provide health care to the needy and is based on programs established in several states since 1990. Pfizer has provided its product line free since 1990 to Kentucky's Health Care Access Foundation, a nonprofit cooperative of health care professionals serving patients who live below the poverty line and lack insurance but are ineligible for entitlement programs. Pfizer said it helped establish a similar program in Arkansas in 1992. In late 1992 and early this year, Pfizer said, the company and Johnson & Johnson began providing pharmaceuticals free to two established health care clinics in West Virginia and to South Carolina's Commun-I-Care program. Through these programs, "Pfizer and other pharmaceutical firms provide access to pharmaceutical products at no charge for qualified low-income Americans," the press release states. Pfizer is donating drugs from its entire line, many of which treat illnesses common in low-income patients, the statement continues. The products include Procardia XL, Diflucan, Zithromax, Glucotrol, Norvasc, Cardura, Cefobid, Zoloft, Unasyn, Streptomycin and Geocillin. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association's 1992 Directory of Prescription Drug Indigent Programs lists Pfizer as a participant in the Kentucky and Arkansas programs and contains entries for the Diflucan patient assistance program and the general Pfizer indigent patient program, which covers all products but Diflucan. On Aug. 5, the Senate Special Committee on Aging released a four-page update on how patients can obtain medications free. In July, PMA voted to continue its efforts disseminating information about indigent patient programs offered by 42 member companies. In a year of operation the programs have received more than 250,000 patient requests for assistance in obtaining medication ("The Pink Sheet" July 12, T&G-5). Planned participants in the Sharing for Care announcement, in addition to Bessey, included South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell, Jr. (R), the incoming NGA chairman; New Jersey Gov. James Florio (D); Colorado Gov. Roy Romer (D); and NACHC President Jessie Trice.
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