Medications can be outrageously expensive. Over time prescription bills can build up and become overbearing. Many pharmaceutical companies offer programs to reduce or even provide needed meds for those who qualify. Lady MacBeth has graciously compiled a list of phone numbers to the assistance programs for specific drugs. She writes, “These are the phone numbers for assistant drug programs. Sometimes I call them myself and other times I have to get my psychiatrist’s office to call them.”
Asendin (amoxapine) - 1.703.706.5933
BuSpar (buspirone) - 1.800.332.2056
Depakote (valproic acid) - 1.800.441.4987
Elavil (amitriptyline) - 1.800.424.3727
Geodon (ziprasidone) - 1.866.4geodon
Haldol (haloperidol) - 1.800.797.7737
Klonopin (clonazepam) - 1.800.285.4484
Lamictal (lamotrigine) - 1.866.728.4368
Lithobid (lithium) - 1.800.788.9277
Luvox (fluvoxamine) - 1.800.788.9377
Neurontin (gabapentin) - 1.908.725.1247
Paxil (paroxetine) - 1.800.633.0711
Prolixin (fluphenazine) - 1.800.332.2056
Prozac (fluoxetine) - 1.800.545.6962
Seroquel (quetiapine) - 1.800.424.3727
Remeron (mirtazapine) - 1.800.241.8812
Risperdal (risperidone) - 1.800.652.6227
Tegretol (carbamazepine) - 1.800.257.3273
Thorazine (chlorpromazine) - 1.800.633.0711
Trilafon (perphenazine) - 1.800.656.9485
Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) - 1.800.277.2254
Valium (diazepam) - 1.800.285.4484
Wellbutrin (bupropion) - 1.800.722.9294
Zoloft (sertraline) - 1.800.646.4455
Zyprexa (olanzapine) - 1.800.545.6962
A chronic illness not only drains you physically and emotionally - but financially as well.
For many people, affording medications is a difficult hurdle to overcome. New medications tend to be prohititively expensive, and may not be covered by insurance. Even when medications are covered by insurance, the copays can add up quickly for those who take several medications.
Fortunately, there is hope when you can't afford your drugs. It will take work on your part - it won't be fun and it will be hard, but it is preferable to the alternative which is going without.
The first step is to determine if you can switch to a less expensive generic version of the drug. It's likely your pharmacist will suggest this if your doctor does not. However, if neither of them mentions it - don't be afraid to ask! They have many patients who are on a budget, and they will understand.
If the medication is too new for a generic, you can contact the company that makes the drug directly. They don't advertise them, but many companies have drug assistance programs available. This may take some detective work on your part, as you will need to find out the name of the company which makes the drug, and get a phone number for patient related concerns. A company that can help with finding the name and number for the pharmaceutical company is Needymeds.com (http://needymeds.com) They maintain a database of companies categorized by the drugs they produce. You can search this list and get an address, phone number, web site, and othe information about drug assistance programs.
Often these programs work with the cooperation of the patient, the physician, and the drug company. Your doctor may need to call the company and fill out one or more forms. Again, don't be afraid to ask for this help. Doctors are there to help you get the care you need, and they would rather fill out some forms than have you go without the drugs necessary to manage your condition.
Another company that can facilitate is The Medicine Program (http://www.themedicineprogram.com) . For a $5 fee (refundable if you don't qualify) per medication, they will process your request to get medications for free. To qualify you must be uninsured, not qualify for Medicaid, and have an income at the hardship level (generally speaking this is $50,000 or less).
A third option is to apply for Medicaid (http://www.hcfa.gov/medicaid/mcaicnsm.htm) . Medicaid is described as "a jointly-funded, Federal-State health insurance program for certain low-income and needy people." Criteria for acceptance into the Medicaid program is not based on income alone, and varies by state. You will want to contact the agency in your state to help you determine if you qualify, and if prescription medications will be covered.
Some US states offer their own programs to help cover the cost of prescription drugs. These State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs are available in CT, DE, IL, MA, ME, MI, MO, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and VT. Cancercare.org (http://cancercare.org/) maintains a list of contact information (including web sites) for these assistance programs.
And last, but not least, ask your doctor if they have any samples. Obviously this is not sustainable for a long peroid of time, but a few samples might be able to hold you over until a real solution is found.
Exploring options for inexpensive or free prescriptions
There are a number of options for people who cannot afford medications. Please look into all of them before stopping a medication that is working or refusing a medication that has been prescribed for you. While you are looking into these options, be upfront with your doctor about your financial situation. Your doctor may know of additional options (something exclusive to where you live).
1) Contact the pharmaceutical company that makes your medication
Many pharmaceutical programs have indigent drug programs, assistance programs to help qualifying individuals afford medication. The best way to find out about such programs is to contact the individual companies.
The following resources can help you find drug assistance programs:
* HelpingPatients.org: from PhMRA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), a database of programs and contacts.
* Prescription Drug and Other Assistance Programs: from Medicare, this page allows you to search for programs (both private and government) based on where you live.
* The Medicine Program: An organization which helps patients, with help from the physician, enroll in patient assistance programs.
* Needy Meds: Another organization which helps patients learn about patient assistance programs.
2) See if your state has a pharmaceutical program
Eleven US states have pharmaceutical assistance programs for qualifying residents. Qualifications vary, and some programs are for seniors only. HerSource.com maintains a list of these programs with contact information. You'll need to contact the program yourself to see if you might qualify. If your state isn't listed, please contact your county mental health department (check your telephone book) to see if there are other programs in your particular state or county.
3) Consider applying for Medicaid
Medicaid is a "jointly-funded, Federal-State health insurance program for certain low-income and needy people." The application process, eligibility requirements, and insurance coverage vary from state to state.In some states, people who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) automatically qualify for Medicaid. It is best to contact the Medicaid agency in your state for an application and any questions you may have, particularly about whether or not Medicaid covers prescriptions in your state. Your county mental health agency (check your telephone book) may be able to help you with the process.
Helpful Medicaid resources:
* Medicaid Information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
* Find your state Medicaid contact from the CMS
4) Look into generics
You cannot get generic versions of every medication, particularly the newer antidepressants. However, don't hesitate to ask your doctor if there is a generic version of your current medication.
Helpful resources about generic medications:
* Are Generic Drugs Safe? from About Irritable Bowel/Crohn's Disease Guide Amber J. Tresca
* Generic Drugs: Saving Money at the Pharmacy from the Federal Trade Commission
* Office of Generic Drugs from the US Food & Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
5) Look into pill splitting
You may be able to save money by purchasing your medication in a double dose and splitting the pills. For more information on how to do this, please see About Depression Guide Nancy Schimelpfening's How to Save Up to 50% on Your Medication Costs by Pill Splitting.