Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rx Outreach Rocks! Great Assistance Program for Generic Medication; PhRMA's Billy Tauzin at it again

Rx Outreach -- "A Safe, Affordable, and Easy Way to Get the Medicines You Need"

I just have to say that Rx Outreach truly does provide a valuable and easy service to patients, unlike some other more highly promoted programs (ie. PPArx).

After being denied a request for additional assistance in receiving my MS medication last summer (2006), I began an extensive search of prescription assistance programs and trudged through the lengthy application process. At the time, a number of my other medications were not yet available in generic form, but they are now.

With the increased availability and use of generic medications, patients' options have been expanding and innovative programs have been cropping up to serve those patients. Wal-Mart's $4 Live Better Prescription Program has sparked competition in other large retail stores including Target which has established it's own $4 Prescription Program.

To date, none of my generic medications are included on the $4 lists at Wal-Mart or Target, but they are available through Rx Outreach with a reasonable handling fee. Rx Outreach, a program of Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services, Inc., currently provides 129 generic medications to eligible patients (income below 250% FPL) with an easy-to-complete application form.

According to the customer service agent I spoke with this summer (2007), the program was established in 2005 to assist uninsured and underinsured patients. Since many of the patients they help are elderly, Rx Outreach has designed an extremely easy application process. Amazingly, the only proof required for income eligibility is YOUR WORD.

Imagine assistance program which honors the "honor system."

The refill process is simple. I received a Refill Reminder letter in the mail.
"We are sending you this letter to let you know that it is time to refill the following medication(s)." If you choose to refill by phone, an automated system is available 24/7 and customer service is available monday-friday. To refill by mail, simply use the form provided and include payment in the enclosed envelope (no need to add postage.)

Throughout the process, each customer service agent I have spoken with has been friendly and helpful. I am extremely please with their service.

Rx Outreach is managed by Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services, Inc. (ESSDS), a fully licensed mail order pharmacy that is committed to making the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable. It is not an Internet pharmacy. ESSDS manages more than 55 patient assistance programs (PAPs) for major pharmaceutical companies, serving millions of individuals.

ESSDS developed Rx Outreach to provide a safe, affordable, and easy way for people of all ages to get medicines they need. The program offers prescription medicines to uninsured individuals and families, as well as those who have limited prescription drug coverage.

On a slightly related topic:

I think that it is disgusting that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is using the tragedy of the California wildfires to promote their sham of a service, Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPArx). I have spoken before about PPArx and not much has changed.

When I called their number this summer, I was 'assisted' by a man who didn't really speak English at all. In fact, we had to resort to spelling everything in 'alpha, beta, charlie, echo' lingo. Now just think about most medications....that's extremely tedious at best.

Then I waited....and waited...and waited...and finally received their specially-prepared 'package' almost two months later. Ironically, the 'package' omitted applications for programs which I knew were available (I was instructed to contact the program directly for more information) and included applications to programs for which I knew I was not even remotely eligible.

What a waste of time, energy, and resources.

Here's PhRMA's recent press release:

Help For California Fire Evacuees Possible
Through Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Washington, D.C. (October 23, 2007) — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO Billy Tauzin issued the following statement regarding the California wildfires:

“Californians who have been affected by the recent wildfires -- and who are uninsured or underinsured -- should know that help getting the medicines they need may be available through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. The PPA, sponsored by America’s pharmaceutical research companies, is dedicated to helping Americans who lack adequate health care coverage. Now, as residents of southern California face the destruction being caused by these wildfires, the PPA is offering to help qualified patients get assistance even faster.

“Struggling Californians who are having trouble getting the medicines they need may find expedited help through PPA’s disaster relief program by calling the PPA’s toll-free number [info redacted]

“Since April 2005, the PPA has helped more than 4.3 million uninsured or underinsured Americans – including 250,000 in California – find programs that provide prescription medicines for free or nearly free. It helps patients in need obtain access to more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs, including 180 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. The PPA can also help Californians find out about programs offered by the state, such as Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and Access for Infants and Mothers.

“In addition, the PPA provides information on nearly 10,000 free healthcare clinics and has connected more than 163,340 patients with clinics and healthcare providers in their communities.

“Through the PPA, America’s pharmaceutical research companies are continuing to make tremendous inroads by assisting struggling Americans who need it most, and this is especially true during California’s time of need.”

More than 1,300 national and local organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, National Urban League and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, are working with America’s pharmaceutical research companies to help spread the word about the PPA.

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