WASHINGTON, April 7, 2008 This week, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance - a nationwide effort sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies - is celebrating its third anniversary of helping uninsured and financially-struggling Americans get access to the medicines they need for free or nearly free. Since its launch in April 2005, the PPA has helped nearly 5 million patients nationwide. Also in that time the PPA bus tour, the "Help is Here Express," has traveled the country, visiting all 50 states and more than 2,000 cities, to educate people about patient assistance programs.
"For three years, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance has been a resounding success, and it continues to help thousands of patients every day," said Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "No one's helped by a medicine that sits on the shelf and is out of reach financially. We're not going to stop after three years; we're going to keep on reaching out across America as long as there are people who need our help."
The "Help is Here Express" is staffed by trained specialists able to quickly help uninsured patients in need access information on more than 475 patient assistance programs, including nearly 200 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. When the "Help is Here Express" moves on, patients can visit PPA's easy-to-use Web site (www.pparx.org) or call the toll-free phone number (1-888-4PPA-NOW) where trained operators field calls in 150 languages.
"With the number of people affected by chronic disease increasing every year, the PPA and its message of hope is now more relevant than ever," Tauzin added. According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a national coalition working to save lives and reduce health care costs through prevention and management of chronic disease, more than 133 million Americans have at least one chronic disease. The Milken Institute, along with the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (www.fightchronicdisease.org), notes there are more than 19.1 million cases of heart disease, more than 13.7 million cases of diabetes, and more than 10.5 million cases of cancer in the U.S.
Chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the United States, in addition to causing a myriad of other health problems. According to the PFCD, these chronic diseases shorten lives, reduce quality of life, and create considerable burdens on caregivers, making it imperative that those who suffer have access to the medicines they need.
"It's time for us to change how we fight this epidemic," said Dr. Paul Antony, Chief Medical Officer of PhRMA. "Chronic disease is a major portion of health care costs, and its rates are rising. We want to do our part to help uninsured and financially-struggling Americans with chronic disease get access to information on programs that offer free or nearly free prescription medicines."
The good news is, new medicines are in development to fight chronic disease. America's pharmaceutical research companies are currently working on 277 life-saving and life-improving medicines for heart disease and stroke, 646 medicines to treat several types of cancer and 95 medicines for diabetes. These innovative medications and treatments, along with improved access to prescription assistance program information through the PPA, may help to reduce the number of deaths caused by chronic disease every year, according to PFCD.
The PPA is represented by Emmy-winning syndicated television talk show host Montel Williams, named PPA's national spokesman in January 2006. In addition, nationally recognized Telemundo talk show host and author Mayte Prida leads the PPA's Hispanic outreach effort.
"Since January of 2006, I've been traveling