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Free and Low Cost Prescription Drug Programs

How to get help paying for your medications


Updated January 01, 2010

If you are uninsured or your insurance does cover your prescriptions, getting the medications you need can be expensive. This is especially true if you have cancer.

Let's say you have a prescription for chemotherapy, but it cause stomach upset, so you need a anti-nausea medication to go along with it, then the chemo has caused you to become anemic, so you need a prescription for an iron supplement. The list can go on and on. The bottom line is that the prescriptions costs for a cancer patient paying out of pocket can exceed a mortgage payment!

When You Need Help Paying for Your Medications

The worst thing a person can do is to stop taking their medications. There are several programs available that offer free and reduced cost prescription drug assistance.
  • Hospital Social Worker Every hospital has a social worker that can help you find grants and other programs aimed at assisting you with your healthcare needs. This should be your first stop in looking for help. Always inform your doctor if you cannot pay for drugs or care. He or she may know of a program firsthand to assist you, also.
  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is an organization aimed at helping those who can't afford their medications. They have created a database of over 400 programs and over 5000 medications available for reduced or no cost assistance. They help in determining what you are eligible for and applying for the assistance. The service is free and available online. Pharmaceutical Companies A lot of people wouldn't think prescription drug companies offer assistance, but most do. Find out who the manufacturer of your drugs is by asking your physician or pharmacist and checking their website for their prescription assistance programs.Some of the largest pharmaceutical company programs include:

  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Prescription Drug Assistance
  • Merck Patient Assistance Program
  • Pfizer Patient Assistance
  • Roche Patient Assistance Foundation
  • Wyeth Patient Assistance Program
  • What NOT to Do When You Cannot Afford Your Medication

    First, do not stop taking your medication. Contact your doctor/treatment center as soon as you realize you cannot afford the medication.

    Second, do not try to skip doses or scale down the dosage to make it last. The medication will be ineffective.

    Finally, be wary of Internet pharmacies. Online pharmacies do sell drugs at lower costs; however, you don't know if the product you are receiving is a bootleg version of the drug you ordered. Ask your doctor to recommend an Internet pharmacy before ordering drugs online.
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