A new resource for people who need expensive medications isn't just for the uninsured.
Pharmaceutical companies offer millions of dollars in savings on expensive brand name drugs through discounts and coupons, as a local patient advocate found out.
Ashley Boynes-Shuck was recently named one of Pittsburgh's “40 under 40” by Pittsburgh Magazine. She is a popular blogger who loves fashion and entertainment, but her life is more complicated than most.
"There was one point, before I had my brain surgery in February, when I was taking 20 pills a day," said Boynes-Shuck during an interview at her home.
Boynes-Shuck has been battling debilitating auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, since she was 10. She relies on numerous medications, but even with insurance the co-pays can get expensive.
"I've often wondered, what if I lost my health insurance? How would I pay for these things?" asked Boynes-Shuck.
Her rheumatologist recently prescribed a very expensive brand name drug that came with something unexpected, a patient assistance program to help with the cost, and that's when Boynes-Shuck found out about the website www.needymeds.org.
"The second I found out about it, I tweeted about it, put it on Facebook," said Boynes-Shuck.
If you are on an expensive medication, particularly a brand name drug that is not available as a generic, go to NeedyMeds.org and check the list for your medication. If the drug is listed, the manufacturer may offer a discount on a prescription.
The coupons are offered by the pharmaceutical companies and vary depending upon the medication. Some are need-based. Others are not, so even if you have insurance, you may be able to get help with your co-payment.
Boynes-Shuck has found not all doctors suggest the assistance programs to their patients and that's why she says it is something you need to bring up.
"While the doctors are sort of responsible, it's more up to the patient to say, 'Hey I need help paying for my prescriptions. What are my options?'" said Boynes-Shuck.
Most of the assistance programs are for brand name drugs, although some prescription assistance plans will also cover generic medications.
For more detailed information read the First Time Users Guide at www.needymeds.org.