A Declaration for Affordable Medicine

Medicines can only work in patients who can take them. If we have medicines today to treat people and they can’t access them, then we have to make changes. That’s why we launched the Access Our Medicine Initiative.

The Access Our Medicine Initiative launched in April 2014 inviting people to sign an online declaration with a simple statement – that everyone should have access to affordable medicine. Since then, over 75,000 people from 160 countries and a diverse range of organizations representing more than 400 million people have signed the Declaration at www.accessourmedicine.com.

Why are so many people interested?

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Even with the Affordable Care Act, over 30 million Americans will not be able to afford their medicine. People are making sacrifices for their medicine, or are risking their health by sacrificing their medicine. Nobody should have to choose between filling prescriptions and buying groceries.

As part of the Access Our Medicine Initiative, we want to support critical organizations such as NeedyMeds offering immediate support to those patients and families needing access to medicine. I’m grateful to have NeedyMeds’ support on the Access Our Medicine Declaration and I find it particularly important to support their Generic Assistance Program.

The Generic Assistance Program is more critical than ever with the shocking rise in generic drug prices. A few weeks ago CBS News covered the story of patient Barbara Heller whose cost for one 3-month refill for a generic medicine went from $94 to $1,212 this year. The rise in prices is such a concern that the U.S. Senate held a hearing last month, featuring testimony from Representative Elijah Cummings, to investigate the rising costs. Senator Bernie Sanders cited examples from the 1,600 patient stories submitted on his website and patient Carol Ann Riha asked legislators about putting her increased medication costs on her credit card, Do I pay for food? Do I pay for gasoline?”

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The time is now. We must address rising prices and encourage solutions to make medicine affordable for all. It is important to our goals, and to those change-makers we are working with to find solutions, to demonstrate the voices of this issue and collect 100,000 signatures on the online declaration at www.accessourmedicine.com. To get this issue on the national agenda, we need everybody to join the conversation including YOU. Please add your voice today.

 

- Alison Lawton, founder of the Access Our Medicine Initiative

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What is a Patient Assistance Program?

More and more Americans struggle everyday with the rising cost of medications.  This can lead to families making difficult decisions, often forgoing needed meds in order to cover the cost of food, housing, or transportation.  However, there is help available.  Many pharmaceutical companies, along with some pharmacies and non-profit groups, manage Patient Assistance Programs (or PAPs) that offer the medication at reduced or no cost.  So how do these programs work?  And where can you find one?

 

What is a PAP?

02.20Patient Assistance Programs are programs usually designed by a pharmaceutical company to offer medications to low income or uninsured patients for free or with a small co-pay.  You may have heard of them before, usually at the end of an advertisement for a medication they will mention that financial help is available for those who qualify.  To enroll the patient needs to fill out an application form and get their doctor’s signature and sometimes a prescription.  For many patient assistance programs the applicant will need to prove their income level – usually with a tax document or copy of their paystub.

 

Where do I find a Patient Assistance Program?

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The original mission of NeedyMeds was to make it easier for patients to find and enroll in patient assistance

programs, and we are still dedicated to that mission to this day.  Everyday we have a team of researchers who find new programs, and keep information on programs up to date.  We have the most comprehensive list of patient assistance programs on the web – if you can not find a program for your drug on our site then it probably does not exist.

So how do you find one?  We’ve made the process as simple as possible.  On the NeedyMeds homepage there is now a simple drug search(left of the page under our logo).  Enter any brand or generic name drug in the search box to find out what programs are available for that drug.

 

Alternatively you can check out our patient assistance program listing pages.  We list PAPs alphabetically by both Brand Name and Generic name.  Simply find your drug on the list to find out more information about the program.

 

How do I enroll?

Once you’ve found a program for your medication, you will want to contact the program to find out how to enroll.  For most programs it is a simple application form to fill out.  There will be a section for your information, and also a section for your doctor to complete.  Many patient assistance programs have income and insurance requirements (most commonly low-income and without insurance).  You may need to provide documentation to prove your income, such as a tax return or pay stub.  Once the application is complete, send it to the program via e-mail, fax, or mail.  They will notify you if you are accepted into the program.  Most programs take 1-2 weeks to process your application, and another week to ship the medication.

 

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As declared by the UN, today was International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Started in 1992, the observance day aims to promote understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of those with disabilities. With one billion people worldwide experiencing some sort of disability, the day can have an important impact on many who experience difficulties every day. In honor with the international observance, we at NeedyMeds want to share the resources available for people with disabilities in the United States.

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The UN theme for 2014 is “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.” In a previous blog post, we covered state grants that are available to those in need of assistive technology. We also have information on over 20 national organizations offering financial assistance to those requiring assistive technology, and many more serving regional areas. For those less suited to technology, there are programs offering assistance dogs to those suffering from various disabilities and conditions.

As technology and assistance animals can improve the quality of one’s life, worthwhile experiences can also enhance the lives of those with disabilities. With almost 200 camps for those with physical disabilities and over 100 for those with developmental challenges, people of all ages all over the country can go on retreats with peers they can relate to and professionals familiar with their care. NeedyMeds also has information on scholarships for people with disabilities who pursue a higher education.

As a group, persons with disabilities are more likely to experience less education, worse health, less employment, and higher poverty rates than those without disabilities. However, the “Promise of Technology”—whether it is a prosthetic limb, wheelchair, hearing aid, or Internet information resource—can help those affected by the barriers to better education, employment, healthcare, and financial stability.

Giving Tuesday 2014

NeedyMeds is proud to be participating in #GivingTuesday again this year. #GivingTuesday is a first of its kind effort to transform how people participate in the giving season. Similar to how Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping, #GivingTuesday aims to make the Tuesday after Thanksgiving a National Day of Giving. In 2012 over 2,500 organizations partnered with #GivingTuesday and raised over $10 Million in online donations in a single day, and last year over 10,000 organizations participated raising more than $19 Million.

 

History of GivingTuesday

New York’s 92nd Street Y was the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday, bringing the expertise of 139 years of community-management to the project and providing #GivingTuesday a home. The United Nations Foundation joined as partners, bringing their strategic and communications clout to the project. An amazing team of influencers then offered their ideas, contacts and wisdom to help shape and improve the concept. A powerful list of corporations and non-profits agreed to be founding partners, helping spread the word and committing to their own #GivingTuesday initiatives. Since then, countless organizations, friends and leaders have all added their support and talents to make #GivingTuesday a reality.

 

Our Goals

Our participation in #GivingTuesday emphasizes collecting stories of NeedyMeds’ impact on people’s lives and encouraging small contributions from new donors. Our goal is to attract 50 new donors and receive 25 stories on NeedyMeds’ impact. We love to hear from people that have used NeedyMeds to save money on their medications and healthcare costs! If you or someone you know has used our site please send us your story. Richard Sagall, MD, President of NeedyMeds commented, “NeedyMeds emphasis in the #GivingTuesday movement is on recognizing that many people giving in small ways can make a big difference.”

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How To Participate

Participating in #GivingTuesday is easy – you can donate to NeedyMeds, give us a review on Great Nonprofits, and/or head to GivingTuesday.org to find another organization to support. There are over 2,500 organizations listed, all of which help a worthy cause.

 

  • To Donate to NeedyMeds – Click Here to donate to NeedyMeds. Your donation helps us in a number of ways – finding new assistance programs and resources, improve our website, provide free printed materials and drug cards to communities in need, fund our helpline and much more.
  • To Review NeedyMeds – Click Here to review NeedyMeds on the Great Nonprofits website. We would love to hear about your experience with NeedyMeds and our impact!
  • To Donate to HEALfundr – Click Here to see the current crowdfunding campaigns. All HEALfundr campaigns are verified and donated funds are sent directly to medical service providers. Your donation could help an individual facing high medical expenses or help fund NeedyMeds’ new Generic Assistance Program (GAP) with its special matching program, effectively doubling your donation to GAP.

 

 

For more information on #GivingTuesday – it’s impact and other partner information – head to GivingTuesday.Org

Lowering Your Diabetes Costs

Tips from Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs

With approximately 29 million Americans affected by diabetes, or 9.3 percent of the U.S. population, the costs associated with the disease are a growing problem. As of 2012, the total healthcare costs for diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is roughly $245 billion, an increase of 41 percent since 2007, and according to the American Diabetes Association, a person with diabetes spends on average $13,700 per year on care.

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National Diabetes Month, held every November, is a time of year to raise awareness about diabetes prevention and treatment, and also to discuss how high care costs can undermine efforts to manage diabetes. That’s why we’re co-hosting a webinar with Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs on “Lowering Costs for Type 2 Diabetes Care.”

 

Detecting it early on is both lifesaving as well as money-saving. If you suspect you might have diabetes (read about symptoms here), schedule an appointment with your doctor right away and get tested.  If it turns out you do have diabetes, talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and dietary changes that can help you control the disease. Those measures can be as effective medication, especially in the early stages of diabetes and can result in lower long-term medical costs, from, for instance, insulin and other injectable diabetes drugs.

 

If you and your doctor determine that medication makes sense, we recommend trying metformin first. In recent years, a strong medical consensus has emerged in the U.S., Europe, and Australia that most newly diagnosed people with diabetes who need a medicine should first be prescribed this drug. If metformin fails to bring your blood glucose into the normal range, you may need a second drug – either glipizide or glimepiride are good options. These medicines are available as low-cost generics, costing from $4 to $35 a month, and work just as well as newer classes of diabetes drugs. In fact, a number of the newer drugs do not lower blood sugar as well as metformin, glipizide, or glimepiride.

 

For more cost-saving tips on managing diabetes, including saving money on your medications, join our free webinar this Thursday at 2pm Eastern time. Click here to register.

 

- Ginger Skinner

Ginger Skinner is a writer for Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, a public education project dedicated to helping you talk to your doctor about prescription drugs, and helping you find the most effective and safest drugs for the best price. To stay up to date on Best Buy Drugs news and advice, connect with them on Facebook, Google+, andTwitter, and sign up for the free monthly e-alerts.

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