Ten leading pharmaceutical companies announced a new joint program in January that cuts the price of 275 prescription drugs'including 10 anti-HIV medications'by 25% to 40% for low-income Americans under 65. The companies'Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Takeda, and TAP Pharmaceutical Products'say the program, called Together Rx Access, is desperately needed by millions of Americans who have no prescription drug coverage in their health insurance programs or who lack health insurance entirely.
'The companies in Together Rx Access have stepped forward because they all feel it is the right thing to do and they are able to do it,' says Roba Whiteley, the program's executive director. 'It's free to get, it's free to use, and the savings are real.'
In addition to anti-HIV medications, several drugs used to prevent or combat opportunistic bacterial and fungal infections and to treat such HIV-related conditions as elevated cholesterol levels, sleeplessness, diabetes, and depression are included in the program.
However, even though several makers of key antiretroviral drugs are participating in Together Rx Access, only Glaxo and Agouron'a division of Pfizer'are including anti-HIV drugs in the program. All eight of Glaxo's antiretrovirals are available, as are both of Agouron's anti-HIV medications.
The program's eligibility requirements will exclude many of the nation's HIV patients, says Phil Curtis, interim director of government affairs at AIDS Project Los Angeles. Anyone who has a prescription benefit through a private health insurance program, is enrolled in a public-health service that provides drug coverage'including Medicare and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs'or earns more than $30,000 individually, $40,000 for a couple, and $60,000 for a family of four is ineligible.
The program could prove useful for some HIV-positive people'for example, those in states with ADAP waiting lists, Curtis says, but he adds, 'Most low-income people who have the need and cannot get drugs through public sources also are likely already in touch with drug companies' indigent programs' and obtaining anti-HIV medications through those channels.
Together Rx Access's eligibility requirements, registration forms, and program medications are available online at www.togetherrxaccess.com or by calling (800) 444-4106.