One of the biggest reasons for medication non-adherence is affordability. While nearly every drug company has some sort of patient access program, it is not widely known among patients and healthcare professionals. Patient assistance programs (PAPs) are voluntarily programs developed by pharmaceutical companies to offer free or low cost drugs to low-income or uninsured patients who are unable to pay for their medications. While every pharmaceutical company has some sort of PAP, this review will be based on some of the most popular programs.

If there is only one PAP that I could suggest patients to take a look at, it would be TogetherRXAccess. TogetherRXAccess istogetherrxaccess.jpg a prescription savings program that offers a simple way for patients to save money on medication. The TogetherRXAccess card is accepted at several pharmacies. However, to qualify for a card, patients must meet a number of criteria. The first criteria is that patients can not be eligible for Medicare.Companies agreeing to offer some discounted drugs include: Astra Zeneca, Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Products, Novartis, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi Aventis, Takeda, and TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc.

Merck Discount Program
Merck offers three programs.

    1. Merck Patient Assistance Program: This programs provides eligible uninsured patients with free medication for one year. Applications must reapply yearly. There ismercklogo.gif no limit in the amount of times an applicant may apply.
    2. Merck Prescription Discount Program: The program is offered to all uninsured patients regardless of income or age. The program provides a 15-20% discount on Merck medication. It is free of charge.
    3. Merck Vaccine Program: The vaccine program is for those age 19 years and older who are uninsured.

The Guide to Affordable Medicine is a resource created by Merck for patients interested in learning more about PAPs.

Wal-Mart Discount Programwalmart.jpg
The Wal-Mart Discount Program was started in September 2006. The program sells generic drugs for $4. For a complete list of generic drugs available for $4, click here. There is no eligibility criteria to pay $4 for the generic drugs and no forms are required to fill out.

They will also begin to offer generic versions of the birth control medications Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Ortho Cyclen for $9 per 30-day supply. According to the NY Times, Wal-Mart currently offers over 360 generic prescriptions with 154 prescriptions that have different dosage forms for $4.

This source does a great job at assisting patients to find PAPs in managing drug costs. Users may search for assistance programs based on drug name or company. I would suggest checking this particular link that lists the programs for you.Upon clicking, you will obtain a snapshot of the types of drugs covered by the pharmaceutical company.

While RXAssist would like users to register to obtain more information on a particular PAP, you can just search for the company name and their assistance program in a search engine in order to go to the official site. The search template follows the format: “Drug Company Name Patient Assistance Program.” For example: “Abbott Patient Assistance Program”