We’ve discussed patient assistance programs before. They’re outwardly big pharma’s response to help those who are struggling to afford their drugs. On the back end however, they’re often used as a gauge companies use to determine how many patients will be affected by a particular price hike. They do not actually reduce prices or costs; merely off-load them to others like insurance companies. Many programs are difficult to get into, and may not offer coverage beyond a certain time.
A story has appeared in the news about a particular charity whose mission was to help people afford their prescription drugs. The charity, Caring Voice Coalition, was funded mainly by donations from big pharmaceutical firms. It provides co-pay support to people who cannot afford the high costs of their drugs. The charity allegedly allowed its pharma donors to have influence over how it was run, in particular, allegedly gave pharmaceutical makers information to see if their contributions were helping their own companies. This would allow them to mitigate the damage their customers would suffer if the price of the drug rose. Such a practice would be illegal.
The charity hasn’t issued a substantive rebuttal to the allegations except to say they are reviewing the letter sent to them by the Department of Health and Human Services. The point of this is to show the lengths big pharma will go to co-opt a program designed to help people. Instead of happily contributing to lowering peoples out of pocket drug costs, they surreptitiously used ill-gotten data to better plan their price hikes.
The Caring Voice Coalition could be forced to close its doors, which would lead to hardship for many people currently using their services. Big pharma has pretty much ruined a good thing for those in need. It’s another example of how patient assistance programs have a dual purpose. Publically they’re supposed to help those in need, but their actual purpose is for strategic planning and market research.
For those of you are having difficulty, or know someone having difficulty, affording their prescription drugs, we encourage you to call us. Unlike patient assistance programs you don’t have to meet any criteria to use our services. There’s no complicated paper work or limits. Call us today or visit our website to see how we might be able to help you.