Comparing Patient Assistance Programs for Multiple Sclerosis Medication

Prescription medications can be very expensive — especially if you’re treating a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis (MS). However, help is available. A patient assistance program (PAP) is a money-saving plan developed by drug companies. It provides people with low- or no-cost prescription medication.

Each PAP has its own standards and criteria. Applying can be time consuming, but it might be worth it if the financial burden of your medication is overwhelming.

Many brand name prescription medicines are discounted through PAPs, so you won’t be limited to generic drugs. This list of PAPs is a great place to start if you’re just beginning your research.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) combines the efforts of hundreds of private and public patient assistance programs across the country. PPA helps you see results for hundreds of companies at once, rather than applying for reduced-cost medicine through each company. It’s meant for people with no prescription drug coverage, so you may not qualify if you already have pharmacy benefits.

The Process: Enter the names of all your medicines to find out if you’re eligible. Then provide basic info about yourself, including: your income, age, zip code, and insurance status. Your qualification for any patient assistance program is based on the information you submitted.

For more information visit their website: www.pparx.org. You can also call their toll-free number (1-888-4PPA-NOW).

RxAssist

The RxAssist Patient Assistance Program website hosts a database of prescription drug assistance information. If you take multiple medicines to treat your MS, RxAssist can help you research potential money-saving options.

The Process: Enter the drug name in the database search to get information on possible savings. RxAssist will let you know if your medicine has any assistance programs. Click on the results to learn more about who qualifies, what type of assistance is available, and where to apply.

For example, you may be eligible for assistance if you take fingolimod (Gilenya). Searching fingolimod on RxAssist returns two PAPs. The first entry is for Gilenya Go Program, a financial support program from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Gilenya. The entry on RxAssist takes you to Gilenya’s website, where you can download a request form. Fill out the form and fax it to Gilenya. You’ll find out if you’re eligible for their prescription copay support program or their medical copay support program in a few days.

The second entry for Gilenya (fingolimod) is also from Novartis. This entry is more detailed. It represents the majority of RxAssist entries and contains information about eligibility, re-application, and refill policies. If you think you’re eligible, continue to the Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation Program website to download and complete the application.

RxAssist is part of the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. For more information, visit their web site: www.rxassist.org.

NeedyMeds

NeedyMeds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people find assistance for their prescription drug needs. Look for a relevant PAP by searching your drug’s name. Find the drugs you take, then click on their program information to learn if you qualify. If you do, follow the link to the PAP web site.

The Process: A search for the drug Tysabri turns up information for six programs. Search results are very broad because NeedyMeds doesn’t request personal information. The list includes every program that might help pay for Tysabri. While some are specific to Tysabri, others are more general. At a minimum, each entry provides contact information. More detailed entries also provide eligibility requirements, application requirements, and benefit details.

NeedyMeds drug discount card may be able to help if you have a medicine that doesn’t have a relevant PAP. Present this card whenever you’re filling a prescription and your pharmacy can determine if you qualify for any savings. You may be able to use this card even if you have insurance, since not all medicines are covered by health insurance. In some cases, the NeedyMeds discount card may even help you get your medicine at a lower cost than your prescription drug coverage plan can.

For more information, visit their web site: www.needymeds.org. You can also call their toll-free number (800-503-6897).

HealthWell Foundation

The HealthWell Foundation is a medical charity organization. Its goal is to help people with the costs of copays, coinsurance, and prescription insurance deductibles. You may qualify for assistance from HealthWell even if you have health insurance.

Apply for coverage through HealthWell’s website. If you qualify for the program, apply for a grant from the organization. People who are given a grant will request reimbursement from HealthWell each time they pay for a prescription or service. However, your grant may close if you ever stop using it. You’ll have to reapply if you need additional assistance.

For more information, visit their web site: www.healthwellfoundation.org. You can also call their toll-free number (800-675-8416).

Pfizer RxPathways

Unlike the previous PAPs, Pfizer RxPathways is run by a single pharmaceutical company. Pfizer produces many prescription medicines that people with MS use, including Lyrica, Effexor, and Viagra. You may qualify for assistance if you take one or more Pfizer medication. People with private health insurance may also qualify for copayment assistance through the program.

For more information, visit their web site: www.pfizerrxpathways.com. You can also call their toll-free number (1-866-706-2400).

Multiple Sclerosis Advocacy Organizations

Non-profit foundations, advocacy groups, and research organizations dedicated to people with MS often maintain up-to-date lists of medication assistance resources. If you’re looking for a specific medication, these organizations may be helpful: