Pharma cos. team up to offer Rx discount card

June 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

Seven pharmaceutical companies have teamed up to create Together Rx, a discount card program aimed at low-income Medicare enrollees with no prescription drug coverage.

Seven pharmaceutical companies have teamed up to create Together Rx, a discount card program aimed at low-income Medicare enrollees with no prescription drug coverage.

Abbott Park, IL-based Abbott Laboratories; Wilmington, DE-based AstraZeneca LP; Bridgewater, PA-based Aventis Pharma AG; New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; Research Triangle Park, NC-based GlaxoSmithKline; New Brunswick, NJ-based Johnson & Johnson; and East Hanover, NJ-based Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. started the program, which will offer savings on more than 150 prescription medicines, including 26 different medicines used to treat diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cancer, allergy, asthma, arthritis and depression.

Considerable savings

Through the program, Medicare enrollees without public or private prescription drug coverage and with incomes of up to $28,000 ($38,000 for couples) can anticipate obtaining savings ranging from approximately 20% to 40% off the price they usually pay for prescription medicines at the pharmacy, directly from the manufacturers through a variety of savings options.

In addition, during the enrollment process, individuals of more limited income who meet eligibility requirements for patient assistance programs provided by the individual companies or by foundations supported by each of the individual companies will be notified by San Francisco-based McKesson Corp., which is administering the program, that they may qualify for further savings and, in some cases, free medicines.

"The lack of prescription drug coverage among Medicare beneficiaries is a serious national problem that no individual company can solve," read a statement from executives from the seven participating companies. "The program is being provided until a much-needed Medicare prescription drug benefit is enacted and implemented."

Qualified support

Though news of the new program was met with support from interest groups representing physicians and the elderly, the groups also pointed out that the program is not a substitute for a Medicare prescription drug program.

A statement from the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine read, "Discount programs, such as the one announced today, should be viewed only as an interim step toward a comprehensive strategy to assure that Medicare patients, particularly those of limited means, will have access to affordable prescription drugs."

Said Bill Novelli, chief executive officer of the Washington-based AARP, "None of the industry programs include all drugs, nor all Medicare beneficiaries, and they do not provide the necessary stability that can only be gained by enacting full drug coverage within Medicare." PR

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