Patient Education Blog

Prescription assistance: when you can’t afford a medication

Beth Waldron, Program Director of the Clot Connect project, writes….

Approximately 1 in 5 people don’t take a medication a doctor has prescribed because they can’t afford to pay for it [ref 1].  While the cost of some outpatient “blood thinning” therapies (anticoagulants) can be substantial, failure to take a blood thinning medication as prescribed can have serious, even deadly, consequences.

What can you do when prescribed a blood thinner you cannot afford?

Help is available for some patients. Many pharmaceutical companies have Patient Assistance Programs (PAP) designed to help patients who cannot afford their medications obtain the medicine they need at either no or very low cost.

There is great variance among the programs offered because each pharmaceutical company establishes its own eligibility criteria for their Patient Assistance Programs along with deciding which medications are included. Most programs have some form of income guideline, require the patient complete an application form, and require a valid prescription and physician signature.

Most Patient Assistance Programs have reimbursement counselors who can answer questions about the application process over the phone.

Below is information on Prescription Assistance Programs for several commonly prescribed brand-name anticoagulants (blood thinners). In addition to the industry sponsored Patient Assistance Programs, several nonprofit organizations are also listed which help patients obtain discounted prescription drugs.

 

A.  Injectables – Low Molecular Weight Heparin (LMWH)

 

1. Arixtra® (fondaparinux sodium injection)

The manufacturer of Arixtra®, GlaxoSmithKline discontinued its assistance program for fondaparinux June 2014.

2. Fragmin® (dalteparin sodium injection)

Phone: 1-877-318-9557
Mon-Fri 8 AM – 6:30 PM ET
Email: questions@rxoutreach.org

Rx Outreach
P.O. Box 66536
Saint Louis, MO 63166-6536

Fragmin assistance website

3. Innohep® (tinzaparin sodium injection)

The manufacturer of Innohep®, Celgene, offers the following contact information regarding patient assistance:

Contact Celgene Patient Support
1-800-931-8691
Monday – Friday
8 AM – 7 PM ET

website

4. Lovenox® (enoxaparin sodium injection)

a) For Lovenox® Brand:

The manufacturer of Lovenox®, Sanofi-Aventis, sponsors a patient assistance hotline to facilitate access to their Patient Assistance Program:

Phone: 1-888-847-4877

Website

b) For generic enoxaparin:

Novartis patient assistance website

B.  Oral Blood Thinners (anticoagulants)

 

1.  Coumadin®, Jantoven® (warfarin)

a)  For Coumadin® brand: 

The manufacturer of Coumadin®, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, participates in ‘Together Rx Access‘ a program which offers a discount savings card good for Coumadin® brand.

Phone: 1-800-444-4106
Website

b)  For generic warfarin:

Generic warfarin is available through Rx Outreach, a nonprofit charitable organization that provides low-cost prescription medications to people in need across the U.S.

Rx Outreach
P.O. Box 66536
St. Louis, MO 63166-6536
Phone: 1-800-769-3880
website

2.  Pradaxa® (dabigatran)

The manufacturer of Pradaxa®, Boehringer Ingelheim, offers a Patient Assistance Program:

Boehringer Ingelheim CARES Foundation-Patient Assistance Program
Phone: 1-800- 556-8317
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30am – 5:30pm CST

Online: The Patient Assistance Program does not have a direct informational website, however an online application can be made at www.RxHope.com, an independent web-based patient assistance resource which processes patient assistance requests.

A print application can be found here.

3.  Xarelto® (rivaroxaban)

The Johnson & Johnson Patient Assistance program:

Phone: 1-888-XARELTO (1-888-927-3586)
Hours:  
Monday through Friday, 8 AM TO 8PM, ET.
Website 

4. Eliquis (apixaban)

 For Eliquis coverage questions:   http://www.eliquis.com/eliquis/coverage-assistance Phone: 1-855-354-7847 (8 am – 8 pm ET, Monday-Friday) Agents can check if Eliquis is covered by your insurance plan and answer additional insurance questions you may have.

The Bristol-Myers-Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation assists patients who need help paying for medication: Phone:  1-800-736-0003   Website

C. General Prescription Access Resources

There are several websites which serve as clearinghouses for information on prescription patient assistance programs and are good first stops to consult when looking for assistance, for any medication.

1.  Partnership for Prescription Assistance

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage obtain medicines either for free or nearly free. The PPA is sponsored by a consortium of pharmaceutical research companies to offer a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs, including nearly 200 offered by pharmaceutical companies. The program covers about 2,500 different brand-name medications and numerous generics.

Another helpful service the PPA offers is information on nearly 10,000 free community health clinics and can connect patients to one in their area. Additionally, this resource also includes connection to many regional and local based assistance programs.

PPA has both a website and a toll-free phone inquiry line. The call center accepts calls in English, Spanish and approximately 150 other languages.

Contact Information:

1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669)
Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM ET
Website 

2.  RxAssist

RxAssist is a web based medication assistance resource center established in 1999 with funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  RxAssist includes a comprehensive database of patient assistance resources. RxAssist is part of the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and is sponsored by AstraZeneca.

Contact Information:

Website 

3.  NeedyMeds

NeedyMeds, a non-profit information resource which helps people in need find assistance programs to help them afford their medications and costs related to health care. It offers an online index of over 570 patient assistance programs and services. Information is available in English and Spanish. NeedyMeds also includes databases on disease-based assistance, free and low-cost clinics, government assistance programs.

Contact Information:

Website

References:


1.  Mazer, M., Bisgaier, J., Dailey, E., Srivastava, K., McDermoth, M., Datner, E. and Rhodes, K. V. (2011), Risk for Cost-related Medication Nonadherence Among Emergency Department Patients. Academic Emergency Medicine, 18: 267–272.

Last updated: October 7, 2014

Disclosure: I have no financial conflict of interest relating to this post.

Disclaimer:  ClotConnect.org, its contributors, authors, advisors, members and affiliate organizations do not assume any liability for the content of the website, blog and educational materials. Medical information changes rapidly. While information is believed to be correct, no representation is made and no responsibility is assumed for the accuracy of information contained on or available through this web site and blog. Information is subject to change without notice. 

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6 Responses to “Prescription assistance: when you can’t afford a medication”

  1. Tony says:

    Good article and good references. I use the needymeds website myself all the time. They help me find resources for people who are sick and need medical clinics.

  2. susiphotossusan francy says:

    i have a couple of months supply of fragmin and want to donate it. can you direct me to an organization that will accept it. i don’t want to dispose of it but i’m having trouble finding a place to donate it.
    thank you

    • Stephan Moll says:

      I would suggest you ask your anticoagulation clinic provider or your physicians, but I bet you have already done that. You can also check http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14425 .

      As of Aug 24th: DEA has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. to provide a venue for persons who want to dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. Please check back in mid-September to find convenient collection locations in your zip code area, county, city, or state. For more information please visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html
      Stephan Moll, MD

  3. k.s. says:

    Can you tell me if there are alternatives when you can’t afford the coumadin clinic anymore. I would like to stretch out between appts because my insurance coverage has changed, but the clinic just dropped me as a patient. So when my pills runs out, I guess I just get another embolism, and que sera, sera.

    I know no one will help me because I have the money to pay for over $2,100 a year in medical insurance. It’s just the newly in place deductible, along with the co-pays and co-insurance. Three different ways to pay, now.

    • Stephan Moll says:

      First of all, it is always worthwhile to revisit whether a patient still needs to be on a blood thinner, based on the person’s medical history and the most recent treatment guidelines and clinical trial results. Secondly, if you, indeed, need to be on long-term blood thinners, then there are a few alternative options to explore, even though all of them are certainly also associated with cost. However, it depends on a person’s insurance plan as to what option is the least expensive: (a) INR home testing with point of care instrument, (b) Pradaxa, (c) INR monitoring in an anticoagulation clinic every 2-3 months if the INR has been stable over the last several months. If anticoagulation (i.e. therapy with a blood thinner) is truly thought to be needed based on your medical history and treatment guidelines, then discontinuing it and switching to aspirin or a natural product like Nattokinase would not be a good/effective option.