The Partnership for Prescription bus stopped in Brazil Thursday afternoon. The "Help is Here Express" is touring 15 Indiana cities to educate the public and the media about patient assistance programs, which may help people obtain medicines at little or no charge.
By DIANE DIERKS
You may have seen the television commercials, featuring Montel Williams, talking about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Thursday afternoon, the PPA "Help is Here Express" bus stopped at The Brazil Times as part of a tour to increase public awareness about prescription medication assistance programs. The bus is set up as a traveling education center and is fitted with computers and phone lines, so information can be provided on-site.
The national PPA program was launched in April, 2005 by PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), which is the trade association and lobbying group that represents major pharmaceutical companies.
"The PPA is funded entirely by American pharmaceutical companies and was started as a grass roots effort to help those in need." said Jeff Gilbert, PPA spokesperson and PhRMA director.
The PPA is made up of over 1,300 national and local organizations and can provide assistance with more than 2,500 brand name and generic medications.
According to information provided by Borshoff Johnson Matthew, the PPA is the largest private-sector prescription assistance program in the United States.
What makes the program unique?
"The PPA is the only program that provides a single point of access to the more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 180 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies."
These programs offer reduced cost or free medications to qualified applicants. There are over 70 companies and agencies in Indiana that are partnering with the PPA and Rx for Indiana. Rx for Indiana was part of the original pilot program and is now the state chapter of the national organization.
Gilbert says that the program is geared to individuals and families with low incomes, who are uninsured or underinsured. The PPA uses criteria to determine who is eligible, however, each company that works with the PPA has its own guidelines. The PPA works as a one-stop clearing house that directs applicants to specific drug assistance programs.
According to Gilbert, the application process usually takes about 10 minutes by phone or computer and individuals should have the following information ready before contacting the PPA:
-state of residence
-estimated gross annual household income
-number of people living in their household
-health or prescription coverage and brand names of prescribed medications. All information is kept confidential.
Gilbert said the program gave away over $5 billion of medication in 2005. Nationally, 2.5 million people have benefited from the PPA program. Within the state of Indiana, 130,000 people received assistance, including 349 people residing in the 47834 ZIP code. The Census Bureau reports that there are 871,000 uninsured Hoosiers.
For more information and to find out eligibility requirements, call the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at 1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669) or visit
www.pparx.org on the Internet.