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The CDR Guide to Disability Rights
(and dealing with the system)

Free medication

Medication for free? From who? What's the catch?
Some pharmaceutical manufacturers have established programs to help make some of their drugs available free of charge to needy patients. Talk to your physician if you think you may be eligible for one of these programs. Please be aware that these are not government-sponsored programs, and while many people have received free drugs, there is no guarantee that it will work for you.

Since these programs are voluntarily developed by manufacturers, each company determines its own eligibility criteria. Many programs simply require that the physician determine that the patient cannot afford the drugs prescribed. Other programs, especially those for very expensive drugs, require a patient to meet certain income or asset criteria. Private health insurance, third-party coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare may disqualify you from an indigent patient program. Not all medications are available through these programs; consult the maker of your drugs directly.

For phone numbers of drug manufacturers, consult the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) at your local library. If your physician will not enroll you in a program, you may consult another doctor or check if the program has a special patient number you can use to enroll yourself.

To make it easier for physicians to identify the growing number of programs available for needy patients, member companies of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) created a directory which lists company programs that provide drugs to physicians whose patients could not otherwise afford them. The programs are listed alphabetically by company. Under the entry for each program is information about how to make a request for assistance, what prescription medicines are covered, and basic eligibility criteria.

Common questions about the directory :

Who determines whether a medication is listed in the PhRMA Directory?
Pharmaceutical manufacturers who belong to PhRMA decide which medications to list.

What does it mean if this Directory does not list a medication?
If a particular medication is not listed, the drug may not be available under this program or may not be manufactured by a company belonging to PhRMA. PhRMA does not have access to information about indigent programs offered by non-member companies.

What are the eligibility criteria for the program? How does one apply?
Each company determines the eligibility criteria for its program. Eligibility criteria and application processes vary. Basic eligibility criteria are listed in the director. If you do not find the answer to your question here, you should contact the drug manufacturer directly. Telephone numbers are listed in the directory. For numbers of companies not listed here, consult a Physician's Desk Reference (PDR).

Can PhRMA provide products directly to patients and/or health care providers?
Release of prescription drugs is subject to numerous federal and state laws. PhRMA is not permitted to dispense or ship pharmaceutical products.

Which pharmaceutical companies are involved in the program?
ALZA Pharmaceuticals
Amgen Inc
Astra Merck Inc
Astra USA Inc
Athena Neurosciences Inc
Bayer Corporation Pharmaceutical Division
Biogen Inc
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Ciba Pharmaceuticals
DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company
Eisai Inc
Fujisawa USA Inc
Genentech Inc
Genetics Institute Inc
Genzyme Corporation
Gilead Sciences Inc
Glaxo Wellcome Inc
Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc
Janssen Pharmaceutical
Knoll Pharmaceutical Company
Lederle Laboratories
Eli Lilly and Company
The Liposome Company Inc
Merck & Co. Inc
Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Ortho Biotech Inc
Ortho Dermatological
Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc
Parke-Davis
Pasteur Merieux Connaught
Pfizer Inc
Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc
Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals Inc
Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc
Roche Laboratories Inc
Roxane Laboratories Inc
Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corporation
Sanofi Pharmaceuticals
Schering Laboratories/ Key Pharmaceuticals
Searle, Serono Laboratories Inc
Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals Inc
SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals
Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc
3M Pharmaceuticals
Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories
Zeneca Pharmaceuticals


Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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