Home Lots More Columns Get Column E-mailed 222 Best Senior Links Week's Best Jokes Pans and Praise
Today's Column Senior Travel Other Good Stuff Epic Senior Trivia Bee's Knees Nostalgia Forum

DRUG GIVEAWAYS OFTEN PAINFUL, BUT WORTH IT
By Frank Kaiser

You gotta love Big Pharma.

No other institution, not even our sweet-talking, snot-nosed Congress, can match the pharmaceutical companies' sheer ego-tripping, gluttonous, jack-booted, big-balled gall and hypocrisy when it comes to dealing with you and me.

This $500,000,000,000 industry has grosser profits, more outlandish executive pay, and richer government subsidies than any in history.

Its unpunished fraudulent and deceptive sales practices are the envy of snake-oil peddlers around the world. And here in the US, its predatory price gouging is actually encouraged by a bought-and-paid-for Congress* and Federal Drug Administration.

Still, even corporate bullies like to be liked. Especially when threatened by a current legislative battle in California to compel drug makers to offer deep discounts to folks with incomes of up to $38,280.

So as the cost of pills in the US soars to Oxycodone heights, Pharma now masks itself as patron to the peons, a modern day Rockefeller dispensing free drugs instead of dimes.

At Pharma's Website a smiling Billy Touzin - new $2 million-a-year CEO - touts his "Help is Here Express," a bus tour "to inform millions of uninsured patients that they may qualify for assistance in paying for their prescription medicines."

Touzin, you'll remember, is the Congressman who engineered a $193-billion giveaway to drug companies and barred the federal government from bargaining down drug prices just before "retiring" to Pharma.

DRUG PROGRAMS A GODSEND (SOMETIMES)

"Look at us!" shout the pharmaceutical manufacturers, their arms bent awkwardly into back-patting position. "We gave away $4 billion in medicines last year!"

How much of this was spent on samples for doctors to tout and how much was for patient assistance programs is a secret. Still, for millions of seniors these free drug programs are a godsend.

The companies, however, don't make it easy.

Last week, when my three-month supply of reflux medicine from Wyeth ran out, I called for a refill. Wyeth gave me a fax number my doctor would need to fax a request for another form. I then called my doc who sent the fax, then resent it, and then re-resent it again before the forms arrived. (See update note below.)

Today I drove to my doctor's office, armed with the same copy of my IRS Form 1040 and breakdown of personal income and expenses that I'd already submitted, and signed Wyeth's forms. With luck, I will get a call from my doctor in a week or so that my new 90-day supply of Protonix can be picked up.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wyeth is not alone putting a chill on its warm and fuzzy program. As one Suddenly Senior reader writes, "Pharma keeps their drug assistance programs as secret and dissembled as a CEO's affair with a stripper."

Complex income documentation blocks many, especially mentally ill patients. According to the Los Angeles Times, clinics often must hire full-time staff to help patients with their applications.

Eligibility requirements are often kept confidential and change without notice.

Peeking behind the curtain finds most drugs are available to those lacking drug insurance or access to government programs with incomes no more than twice the federal poverty level ($19,140 for an individual).

My personal experience with these programs is instructive.

AstraZeneca demanded that Medicaid first reject me, a process taking months and ending in stupefaction. (The catch? In some states you are eligible for Medicaid just by being 65 or older. Of course, there are no benefits.)

Yet Solvay's Patient Assistance Program requires a minimum of paperwork and promptly delivers the drugs to your door.

The trick is to be doggedly persistent. Always follow up forms with phone calls. Never assume that anything is "automatic." Know that you are in a land subject to the full force of Murphy's Law.

With Pharma feeling the California heat, perhaps the process will ease.

Whatever, if you need drugs and can't afford them, call Pharma at 888.4PPA.NOW or 800.762.4636. Also helpful are Pharma's Website, www.pparx.org/, along with www.suddenlysenior.com/patientassistanceprograms.html and www.needymeds.com/.

Do it now.

Remember, all bets are off come January when the Medicare Drug Bill takes effect. Of the 15 free drug programs I called, 14 warned me of big changes.

You can assume not for the better.

*See what your Congressman got paid by Big Pharma at http://www.
opensecrets.org/politicians/

© 2005 - Frank Kaiser

UPDATE NOTE AS UP FEBRUARY 2006: Most drug companies are using Plan D as an excuse to stop their patient assistance programs to those over age 65. Wyeth, however, not only continues it's program but now makes using it much easier, even sending Rx to the patient's home.


GET MORE SENIOR NEWS YOU CAN USE. HERE. FREE!

We’ve expanded the coverage of our RxNews list to include Social Security, Financial, Military and Civilian Retiree News, even valuable information about annuities and when to use them.

Just send a blank e-mail to get-rxnews@suddenlysenior.com

Easy cancellation instructions come with every release.


MORE MEDICARE STUFF
AT SUDDENLY SENIOR THIS WEEK...

Medicare’s new handbook forgets to mention the $2,850 “Donut Hole.” Congress forgets to be fair. And seniors everywhere are bending over to kiss their healthy asses goodbye

The Last Word on Medicare Discount Cards

Absolutely, positively, the last column I'll write on the new Medicare discount drug cards. Tells you everything you need to know — and a whole lot more.

Shear genius! With the Bush Administration's steady hand on the helm, we have nothing to worry about. Still, I have these nagging doubts.

All about traitors -- both in Congress and at AARP -- and the final death rattle of an idea that could have saved countless thousands of senior lives and immeasurable suffering — physical, financial, and emotional.

RECENT COLUMNS

WHEN DRUGSTORES WERE DRUGSTORES

If you grew up when neighborhood drugstores sold little but medicine and sodas, when prescriptions cost 67 cents, and when Lime Rickeys, Green River, Lydia Pinkhams and Hadacol were “the mostest,” READ MORE HERE.

AH, TO BE A KID TODAY. IN FLORIDA.

Back in our day, school was, well, a bore. Today, teachers on bikes seduce 14-year-old boys, science teachers share their home-grown pot, and soon Florida students can shoot bullies, teachers, even parents pretty much at will. READ STORY HERE


PLANNING A VACATION?

Suddenly Senior's Travel Page has a lot of new money-saving information you can use whether you're traveling 10 or 10,000 miles.


See a list and summaries of Suddenly Senior columns.
Click http://www.suddenlysenior.com/columnlist.html


FOUR FUNNY PAGES
OF GREAT SENIOR JOKES!

Suddenly Senior' Sexy Senior Jokes

Suddenly Senior's Favorite Senior Jokes

Suddenly Senior's Great Senior Jokes

Suddenly Senior's Corny Senior Jokes


THIS WEEK'S BEST 222 SENIOR SITES
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/links.shtml
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE BEST OF SENIOR SEX
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/sexpage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR NOSTALGIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/nostalgiapage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR TRIVIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/triviapage.html


Want to get "Monday's Best Jokes" e-mailed every week“ Send blank e-mail to get-jokes@suddenlysenior.com

To get the Suddenly Senior column, absolutely free, send blank e-mail to Get-ss@suddenlysenior.com

NEW! Get the latest Medicare and Canadian drug store news e-mailed almost every day, send blank e-mail to
Get-rxnews@suddenlysenior.com

To unsubscribe to the Suddenly Senior column, send a blank e-mail to Remove-sslist@suddenlysenior.com

To unsubscribe to This Week's Best Jokes, send a blank e-mail to Remove-jokes@suddenlysenior.com


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Frank

Frank Kaiser frank@suddenlysenior.com

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/

The nationally syndicated column seen by more than one and a half million Americans over 50 who've become senior before their time.

PicoSearch
FIND IT AT
SUDDENLY SENIOR!




SINCE 1999, AMERICA'S MOST TRUSTED SENIOR CITIZEN WEBSITE


Seniors Having Fun
• To be a Kid Today in Florida

How Suddenly Senior began
• E-MAIL FRANK


Now read by 3.1 million in 83 newspapers from Florida’s St. Petersburg Times to the Mumbai, India News. CLICK FOR MORE INFO


ADVERTISE WITH
SUDDENLY SENIOR