Growing Trend of Patients Skipping Medications, Curbed by Bus Tour

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

With the costs of prescription drugs skyrocketing, Robert Samulak of Jackson has had a hard time paying for his own prescriptions to treat medical conditions including two herniated discs and a problem with his spine. He says, "My spinal cord is smaller than what it should be and I don't get enough blood flow to my legs."

When his Medicaid help ended, Robert's costs grew to about $1,000 per month for pain killers. He says, "There's been a month when I couldn't afford them and I had to skip and I struggled." He discovered how to cut those costs down to about $25.00 a month while visiting the Help is Here Express Bus. It's traveling the country to help patients to find out how to cut down their costs.

The bus is sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Spokesman Jeff Trewhitt says the organization is trying to stop a growing trend of people skipping their medications with sometimes deadly consequences. He says, "What we're trying to do here is make sure that uninsured and financially struggling patients have the ability to take medications when they're supposed to take it."

The bus contains computer terminals and staff counselors. Once those counselors get the patient's personal information, they enter the medications into the computer. It only takes about 15 minutes for the average patient to discover what programs they qualify for. Trewhitt says, "Those 475 programs cover well over 2.5 thousand medications." He says, "We provide them information about these programs, the names of the programs, they all have toll free numbers, we give them the applications, they have to fill out to submit to the programs, they qualify for. We explain the application to them and we get them started."

Robert is leaving with an application that he says is a lifesaver. He says, "These people really do help you pay for your medications, so, they've helped me out a lot."

If you would like to get help with the program, you don't need to board the bus. Trewhitt says all you have to do is call the toll-free number which is 1-888-4PPA-NOW. A trained specialist will guide you through the application process. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance says the call centers accept calls in English, Spanish and approximately 150 other languages. There is also a website at at which patients can download and print out patient assistance program applications immediately.

Trewhitt says in the four years the bus has been on the road, it's helped more than 200,000 Michigan residents get a better handle on their drug costs.

The bus will stop next in Flint, MI on Thursday, July 23rd, from 10 am to 2 pm at CWA 4103, 1214 S. Saginaw St.

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