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Drugs: How To Save Money When Buying Or Using

Patient Assistance Programs (Manufacturer Free Or Low Cost Drugs)

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Most pharmaceutical manufacturers have patient assistance programs that provide medications either free or at a reduced cost for people who qualify for the particular program.

Eligibility: As a general matter, people who qualify have too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to afford health insurance.

The eligiblity requirements vary from company to company.

Paperwork: Each company also has its own distinct application process.

With some companies, the application must go through your doctor. You are not allowed to submit your own application.

Be prepared to complete lengthy financial forms. The amount of paperwork is worth it.

Once your application is approved, you will usually receive a three month supply at a time. Some companies renew your prescription automatically. Others make you start from scratch. To make things even more confusing, companies periodically may also change their rules.

If your prescription is not covered by a patient assistance program, or even if you don't meet the requirements of a particular program, contact the manufacturer anyhow. The company may make an exception for you, particularly if you keep at it. If you can get some publicity about your situation, so much the better. Pharmaceutical companies are particularly aware of their public image. (To learn how to get publicity about your situation, click here.)


To help you find a patient assistance program, there are lists of the programs, as well as groups that will not only help you find an appropriate program, but also to help you through the application process.

  • Partnership For Prescription assistance lists patient assistance programs. See offsite link or call 888.477.2669.
  • The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) sponsors offsite link, Tel.: 888.477.2669 which lists the eligibility requirements of the pharmaceutical companies' various patient assistance programs. It also offers a free directory of patient assistance programs which can be viewed online at offsite link. You may also contact PhRMA to request the current Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs. Write to: PhRMA Public Affairs Division, 1100 15th St., NW, Suite 900, Washington D.C., 20005. or call Tel.: 800 762 4636 or 202. 835.3400
  • A free directory of pharmaceutical company programs as well as other patient assistance program, including enrollment forms, is available from the Association of Community Cancer Centers at offsite link. Click on "publications", then "Patient Assistance Guide."
  • A free directory is available at offsite link, Tel.: 800.762.4636.
  • A listing of programs is available at NeedyMeds - a non profit organization::800.503.6897 offsite link
  • The federal government lists patient assistance programs through offsite link. Click on prescription drug assistance programs.

Groups That Help Find And Apply To A Patient Assistance Program

To help find a program for which you may qualify, consider:

  • Free Medicine Program has as a stated goal to find the appropriate Patient Assistance Program(s) for you. It also helps guide you in the application process. There is a fee of $5.00 for each medication, which is refundable if they don't find you free drugs. offsite link Tel.: 800.921.0072
  • The Medicine Program will do the research for you, forward the documents you need, and assist in obtaining the drugs for $5.00 per offsite link Tel.: 573. 996.7300.
  • offsite link for a set up and monthly fee, will:
    • Help you identify the free medicines you qualify for and the appropriate pharmaceutical companies which manufacture them.
    • Complete the paperwork for you and your doctor.
    • Review your paperwork before submitting it.
    • Keep you updated with your free medicine refill and ensure your on-going refill paperwork for free medicine is done far enough in advance for you to receive your free medicine refills so that there are no gaps in your medicines.
    • Keep up with changing eligibility requirements.
  • offsite link, IPS (formerly Indigent Patient Services), a division of Clinical Communications, Inc., charges a one time registration fee of $25 ($40 for couples) no matter how many drugs you need. IPS:
    • Helps complete the paper work.
    • Do the follow up with the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies.
    • Help with refills for a cost of $20 per application per refill.
  • offsite link is a patient assistance program that provides more than 50 FDA approved generic medicines. A three month supply costs $18; a 6 month supply costs $30.
  • FreeMedicineFoundation helps locate free drugs for a cost of $5.00 per prescription offsite link.

Most drug manufacturers (pharmaceutical companies) provide free or low-cost drugs to people with low incomes, and sometimes to people with not-so-low incomes.

  • To find programs for which you may be eligible, see: offsite link or call 888.477.2669.
  • To find the name of the manufacturer of a drug in which you are interested, see: offsite link. When you click on the name of the drug, scroll down to the picture of the drug. It will include the name of the manufacturer.
  • For a general overview of the program of a particular manufacturer, see offsite link - search on "Patient Assistance" (without the quotes)

The following are patient advocacy groups that will help patients find free or low-cost drugs:

  • The Free Medicine Foundation.( A onetime fee of $10 is reimbursed if the foundation does not find free drugs). offsite link or Tel.: 888.812.5152.
  • Indigent Patient Services Inc. (Registration fee plus cost per drugs). offsite link or Tel. 727.328.1404

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