SALT LAKE CITY, June 26 In just over three years, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) has helped 5 million patients who are uninsured and financially-struggling find programs that provide prescription medicines for free or nearly free. The celebration of this milestone came during an event today in Salt Lake City where hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol. The PPA's "Help is Here Express" bus tour - a nationwide effort sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies - is raising awareness of patient assistance programs and the need to effectively address the rising and alarming rates of chronic disease. Patients can also learn about innovative new medicines in development to fight chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.
Mindy Hall of Salt Lake City became the 5 millionth person helped by the Partnership for Prescription Assistance when she came to the State Capitol today. The occasion was marked by a visit to Salt Lake City by the program's national spokesman, TV talk-show host Montel Williams. Hall, a 27-year-old college student at Edwards College, said she learned about the program through local patient advocacy groups. Hall found multiple programs through the PPA that will help with her depression and bipolar disorder.
To date, the PPA has now helped 5 million people nationwide, including more than 26,000 people in Utah. 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.
"This is an important milestone in the history of the PPA program," said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), who attended today's event in Salt Lake City. "We've been to 2,000 cities in all 50 states, traveling more than 250,000 miles to help uninsured and financially-struggling Americans. People all across the country have welcomed the buses into their communities, and we're proud to have been able to help so many people in need. "
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 Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) - a national coalition working to save lives and reduce health care costs through prevention management of chronic diseases - 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 PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin. "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."
Chronic disease is an unremitting problem in Utah, where more than 82,000 people suffer from heart disease, 81,000 have diabetes and 71,000 are affected by cancer, according to the Milken Institute. However, 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, 750 medicines to treat several types of cancer and 95 medicines are in development for diabetes. These innovative medications and treatments, along with improved access to prescription assistan