Indianapolis, IN (April 14, 2010) -- In an effort to help even more Americans who are uninsured and struggling financially, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) today launched new online resources designed to expand the program's outreach. "PPA 2.0," an evolution of the nationwide effort sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, was unveiled here during a celebration of the PPA's five-year anniversary of helping patients obtain access to the medicines they need for free or nearly free.
Since its debut in April 2005, the PPA has helped more than 6.5 million Americans by connecting them to patient assistance programs. In Indiana alone, nearly 250,000 people have been helped through PPA, and an additional 30,000 Hoosiers were helped by Rx for Indiana - a pilot program that spawned the nationwide PPA effort.
These two important milestones were celebrated today at Indianapolis' Blackburn Health Center, where PPA's new national spokesman, Jerry Mathers, was joined by likely NFL Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and four-time World Series Champion and legendary New York Yankees and New York Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry.
"Over the past five years, we've been from coast to coast, in all 50 states, helping people who are uninsured and struggling - but our work is not yet done," said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "The next generation of PPA employs the latest technology to give our partners, health care providers, patient advocates and patients themselves easier access to the help provided by patient assistance programs."
"PPA 2.0" introduces new online resources that expand community partnerships and enhance PPA's mobile and Internet presence to make it even easier to obtain information about PPA programs. In an effort to reach more people in more places, PPA is launching a new text hotline and smart phone application, in addition to the existing toll-free hotline and Web site, to ensure around-the-clock access to information about the more than 475 programs offered through the PPA. Nearly 200 of the programs are provided by pharmaceutical companies.
"While developing innovative medicines is our mission, we know that individuals must have access to those medicines in order for that innovation to be of any real value," said Bart Peterson, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications, Eli Lilly and Company. "Through the PPA, Lilly has been able to expand and simplify our commitment to patients who need medication in order to live longer, healthier, and more active lives. Patient assistance programs have never been more important and Lilly holds firm in its commitment to help through our individual efforts and as part of the pharmaceutical industry." In 2009, Lilly provided approximately $290 million in product donations to more than 200,000 U.S. patients.
Jerry Mathers, an American TV icon who has diabetes, has traveled with the PPA to raise awareness of this devastating chronic disease - and the help available through the PPA. Mathers is best known for his portrayal of "The Beaver" in the television classic, "Leave It To Beaver." Currently shown on TV Land and in countries throughout the world, "Leave It To Beaver" has made Jerry Mathers one of the most well-known actors in television history.
Also unveiled at the event is a new 60-second television public service announcement featuring Bettis and former New England Patriots star linebacker and patient advocate Tedy Bruschi, who team up to raise awareness of the PPA program. The PSA has been sent to more than 1,500 commercial television stations, 500 community TV stations and 500 cable systems throughout America.
"As a professional athlete with asthma, I realize how important it is for people battling chronic conditions to take their medication," explained Bettis. "This public service announcement is a great opportunity to share a free, easy and confidential way for people to get help."
Bruschi, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, suffered a debilitating stroke in February 2005, but returned to football just eight months later and was honored as the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year. "After my stroke, I was very fortunate to receive tremendous medical care and the medicines I needed," Bruschi said. "But others aren't as lucky. People who are uninsured and in need should pick up the phone or go to PPA's user-friendly Web site."
Patients seeking help with their medicines can call PPA's toll-free number (1-888-4-PPA-NOW) to talk to a trained operator or access the PPA Web site (www.pparx.org). It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to find out if someone may qualify for free or nearly free medications.
Patients who qualify for help from the PPA's participating patient assistance programs have access to more than 2,500 brand-name and generic prescription medicines. In addition, the PPA provides information on more than 10,000 free health care clinics in America and has connected more than 300,000 patients with clinics and health care providers in their communities.
"At a time when the national unemployment rate is at one of its highest in almost two decades, PPA has become an important lifeline for a growing number of patients," PhRMA's Johnson said. "With tens of thousands of Americans added to the jobless rolls over the last several months, there could be a sharp increase in the number of people losing health care benefits. This can be a scary time for those affected, especially considering the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and asthma."
Nationwide, more than 133 million Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, which is responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I've been traveling the country talking about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, urging people to pick up the phone or log on to the Web site to see if they may qualify for assistance," said Mathers. "As a patient who must cope every day with the effects of diabetes, I understand only too well the importance of having access to the medicine you need."
More than 1,500 national, state and local partners, including the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and National Urban League, are working with America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies to spread the word about the program. Trained specialists work with doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers and community groups, educating them on the process and use of PPA's easy-to-access Web site and toll-free number.
"We're excited that the Partnership for Prescription Assistance is celebrating its fifth anniversary - and improving on a great program," said Jennifer Pferrer, Director at the local Diabetes Association of Indianapolis. "We look forward to helping even more patients in need with the efficient use of these new PPA resources."
/PRNewswire -- April 14/
SOURCE Partnership for Prescription Assistance