In responce to the concern over the high cost of prescription drugs the following plan has been presented. While it is not the "cure" to the problem it is a step in the right direction.
This is an article taken from the Boston Globe, so some of the information appears to be about Mass., do not be mislead this is a national program and you can use the number at the bottom of the page to access information on obtaining a discount card for yourself.
Best wishes,
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Industry launches US drug-discount initiative
Plan targets 36m who lack coverage for prescriptions
By Christopher Rowland, Globe Staff | January 12, 2005

Pharmaceutical companies launched an effort yesterday to provide significant price discounts for 275 brand-name drugs to 36 million Americans who lack prescription drug coverage.

The program, similar to some discount programs already offered for seniors and poor people by individual drug companies, is designed for patients who are too young for government Medicare coverage and earn too much income to qualify for state Medicaid programs.

The program was welcome news at MassMedLine, a free telephone service for Massachusetts residents that helps patients sift through the complicated array of free and discount drug programs offered by government, industry, and social service agencies.

''This program will help us help those callers who might have had limited options," said Katherine Keough, director of government relations at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, which runs MassMed-Line.

Pfizer Inc., Novartis AG, and eight other companies unveiled the program yesterday by taking out a full-page advertisement in the Globe as well as other newspapers in the nation's top 10 markets.

The industry faces increasingly hostile climates in Congress and state capitols because of the high prices of their products. Congress is expected to take up again an effort to make it legal for Americans to import drugs from other countries such as Canada, where price controls provide average savings on the most popular drugs of 29 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of people without insurance could expand as the Bush administration seeks to reduce the federal deficit by slashing funding for state Medicaid programs. Even before those cuts, states are looking to cut costs. Tennessee this week dropped 323,000 adults from an expanded Medicaid program to save $1.7 billion a year.

Those newly uninsured people are among those who may be eligible for the drug industry's new Together Rx Access Card. Using the card, drug firms said, individuals and families with no prescription coverage can get savings of 25 to 40 percent at the pharmacy counter.

To qualify, applicants must be legal US residents under age 65 and otherwise not eligible for Medicare, without public or private prescription drug coverage, and with incomes of up to $30,000 for a single person or $60,000 for a family of four.

Some of the most consistent critics of the drug industry applauded the move.

''It's a commendable thing they have done, but it really underscores the need for making expanded health coverage for those who don't have it a national priority," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a health consumer group in Washington. ''If someone is uninsured, they can't see a doctor. If they can't see a doctor, they can't get a prescription."

Pfizer spokeswoman Michal Fishman said she had no estimate on how much the program would cost the company, which is the world's largest drug manufacturer. There will be some promotional efforts by the sponsoring companies, but the most effective method of attracting enrollment is through nonprofit programs and community centers, Fishman said. ''It's hard to find these people and get them enrolled," she said.

In addition to Pfizer and Novartis, participating companies include Abbott Laboratories Inc., AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LLC, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc.

Patients can enroll or find more information at or by calling 1-800-444-4106. MassMedLine information is available at or at 866-633-1617.