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Last updated January 1, 2014

Patient Assistance Programs

Compiled by Melissa Kaplan

Many drug manufacturers have a history of providing medication for free or at low-cost to the public through an approved "health care advocate" - physicians, nursing homes, etc. Patients, their friends or families are not considered, for the purposes of these programs, to be "health care advocates".

  • Generally speaking, to be eligible for these assistance programs, patients must:

  • not have insurance that pays for prescription drugs

  • not be eligible for Medi-Cal or other federal or state health coverage that provides prescription drug coverage

  • be financially needy enough in the eyes of the manufacturers, and spending enough of your insufficient income on medical and drug services to meet their unstated criteria for 'financial need'.

Eligibility requirements may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so you will need to read up on each manufacturer's requirements if you need to take several drugs. If the drug you need isn't listed on the manufacturer's site or other PAP site or listing, contact the manufacturer's PAP office to see if they will consider the drug under their PAP.

If your doctor does not know about patient assistance programs, or about any programs for the drugs you require but can't afford, you can print out the relevant pages from the sites below and give him or her copies of it so that their office may contact the manufacturer and start the ball rolling.

AIDS Drug Assistance Programs
Includes information on various state and federal drug assistance programs for those with AIDS.
"...the majority of our applicants have too much income to quality for government prescription assistance programs, but not enough to purchase private prescription drug insurance coverage, or are living on retirement income, disability or other assistance."
Helping Patients brings together America’s pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations and civic groups to help low-income, uninsured patients get free or nearly free brand-name medicines. Its mission is to increase awareness of and enrollment in existing patient assistance programs for those who may be eligible. Through this site, Helping Patients offers a single point of access to more than 275 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 150 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.

Needy Meds
Links to manufacturers' information by drug name. Service is free though they do sell a book with all their data in it which can be useful for doctors, home health care workers, etc. who frequently need such information and don't have an Internet-accessible computer handy.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Provides a listing of pharmaceutical manufacturers who offer some sort of patient assistance program, with links to basic information on each manufacturer's requirements/terms.
Volunteer organization which acts as intermediary between you and your doctor and the drug manufacturers offering free medication.

The Medicine Program
Send them the completed Medicine Program form, your scripts, and a small fee-per-script, and they will do the paperwork required to apply on your behalf to the various drug company patient assistance programs.
National program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation which offers information on public and private sources of medication assistance.
US-based company facilitates the filling of prescriptions in Canada for U.S. citizens, without the patient having to travel to Canada.


To find out what other benefits you may be eligible for if you are disabled or over 55 years of age, check out




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