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Free and Discounted Medication

by Karen Wrightson

What would you do if your insurance lapsed and you found yourself unable to get your medications? It can be a scary situation, but there are several resources available.

You can search the Internet or ask your pharmacy which pharmaceutical company makes your medicine. Once you know that, a visit to their Web sites should provide guidance for prescription assistance. Some offer reduced cost or free medicine for a time.

For example, Pfizer’s Web site has a link for Pfizer’s Helpful Answers. Once you click on Pfizer’s Helpful Answers, you will be given three choices such as “I am a patient or helping a patient and do not have prescription drug coverage.” They then ask you to tell them a little about yourself and the Pfizer drugs you take. Drop down menus and yes/no questions such as: “What is your annual salary? What state you live in?” will follow, and then some about the drugs you take. When this information is processed, you are given telephone numbers for programs in your area. Pfizer (www.pfizer.com) programs include Pfizer Pfriends, (866) 776-3700, and Connection to Care (866) 776-3700.

There are other programs such as Partnership for Prescription Assistance (888) 477-2669. Many states offer pharmacy assistance programs. For example, Maryland's MedBank is available online at www.medbank.org. You can check online to see if your state has something similar.

Program officers determine medication assistance by evaluating factors such as your salary, how many are in your household, and whether you have any prescription insurance at all. You must include a copy of your previous year’s income tax return and a 90 day prescription from your doctor when you send in your completed application. Unfortunately, it takes about three weeks to obtain your medicine after your application package is received by the pharmaceutical assistance program. Due to this delay, you may want to try to get samples of your medicine from your doctor. Or your doctor may be able to give you vouchers for free medication by making an appointment with the pharmaceutical company’s representative.

If you are approved for reduced-cost or free medication, it will be sent to your doctor. The amount will vary; Pfizer sends a three month supply. If additional financial information is required by the pharmaceutical company you will be notified by mail.

Many chronic diseases require medication to stay healthy regardless of your financial or insurance situation. It is good to know there are free prescription resources available.