Many of the companies that manufacture prescription drugs offer free or reduced cost programs for consumers who cannot afford them. Eligibility for the programs varies and there are different application procedures. In some cases, your doctor must apply for the help while other companies allow you to apply directly. In others, you must be eligible for Medicare to apply and some companies will only help if you are not receiving any other private or publicly funded drug benefits.
Needymeds lists drug company programs offering free or low-cost medicines.
The NeedyMeds website was started in 1997 by a home health social worker who had collected information about drug company programs to help her low-income patients find affordable medicines. With the help of a family physician, this website was begun to help consumers by putting together lists programs sponsored by drug manufacturers to help low-income patients receive free or low-priced medicines on its website.
TogetherRx Access program - Several major drug companies have created a joint website that allows you to apply for a card (TogetherRx Access) that offers discounts on over 300 medications manufactured by these companies. You use the card to purchase the drugs at your local pharmacy.
To qualify, may not be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid and must have no other prescription drug coverage. Most of the companies have income limits. The amount you can save on prescriptions with the discount card varies by individual programs. In addition, different pharmacies may charge different prices for the covered medications. This is because the discounts are applied to the “usual” prices that pharmacy charges and these "usual" prices vary from store to store. Generally, the free program offers savings of 25-40%and possibly more.
Manufacturers’ Patient Assistance Programs
Some pharmaceutical companies also have discount drug programs to help low-income people of all ages.
AstraZeneca - AstraZeneca’s Patient Assistance Program provides free medicines to low-income patients who do not have other prescription drug coverage, do not qualify for government programs such as Medical Assistance, but cannot afford to pay for medicines.
- Your physician will also need to sign the form.
- AstraZeneca also sponsors the Caring Partners Program, which provides free medicines to low-income outpatients at hospital clinics in low-income neighborhoods.
Abbott Laboratories - The Abbott Patient Assistance Foundation provides Abbott medicines at no cost to qualified patients who are experiencing financial difficulties and who generally do not have coverage available for these products through private insurance or government-funded programs. Call
1-800-222-6885 for information about the programs.
LillyMedicareAnswers provides free Lilly medicines to qualified Medicare recipients through a mail order pharmacy. To receive free Lilly medicines through LillyMedicareAnswers, you must:
- Be enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription plan.
- Be denied or ineligible for Low Income Subsidy.
- Be a resident of the United States, including Puerto Rico.
- Meet the household income guidelines* for the program.
Income guidelines and application available on the website, or call 1-877-795-4559 to request an application or for additional information.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need for free or at reduced cost. It offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs, including nearly 200 offered by pharmaceutical companies.
- Also sponsored by AstraZeneca, the RxAssist Patient Assistance Program Center
offers a comprehensive database of patient assistance programs run by pharmaceutical companies, as well as practical tools, news, and articles so that health care professionals and patients can find the information they need.
Military Pharmacy Programs
TRICARE Pharmacy Program provides a pharmacy benefit to all eligible uniformed service members, retirees, and family members, including beneficiaries age 65 and older. Your coverage is the same regardless your beneficiary category or which health plan option you are using. The TRICARE Pharmacy Program is available worldwide, but there are some limitations to having your prescriptions filled in some overseas areas.
TRICARE Pharmacy for Aging Retirees - Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are able to use the TRICARE Pharmacy Program benefits. However, TRICARE beneficiaries who turned 65 on or after April 1, 2001, are required to be enrolled in Medicare Part B. If you choose not to enroll, your pharmacy benefit is limited to the medications available at military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies.
Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are also eligible for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. However, you do not need to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to keep your TRICARE benefit.
You may visit www.tricare.mil/medicarepartd for additional details.
For the most current information about Medicare Part D, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit the Medicare Web site at www.medicare.gov
Help with HIV/AIDS drugs
- In Maryland - The Maryland AIDS Drug Assistance Program (MADAP) helps low to moderate income residents pay for some drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS. You do not have a prescription co-pay with MADAP, but may have to pay a monthly fee to participate, depending on your household income. You can find out more about the program and apply online by visiting the website.