Let's say you have a prescription for chemotherapy, but it causes an upset stomach. You need an antinausea medication to go along with the chemo prescription. 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 prescription costs for a cancer patient paying out of pocket can exceed a mortgage payment.
What to Do When You Need Help Paying for Your MedicationsThere are several programs available that offer free and reduced-cost prescription drug assistance.
Treating Physician: Always inform your doctor if you cannot pay for medication. He may be able to prescribe a less-expensive drug or ensure that a drug is in your insurance company's formulary, if you are insured. Your doctor may also be aware of programs that can provide assistance to you.
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.
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 5,000 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.
- 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 MedicationFirst, 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.