This drug assistance program is first to offer generics

April 1, 2005

The Rx Outreach program, from Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services Inc. (ESSDS), is the first prescription drug assistance program for generic drugs. Through the program, begun in November 2004, more than 108 million lower-income adults and children can purchase more affordable medications.

The Rx Outreach program, from Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services Inc. (ESSDS), is the first prescription drug assistance program for generic drugs. Through the program, begun in November 2004, more than 108 million lower-income adults and children can purchase more affordable medications.

The Express Scripts mail-order program, aimed at the uninsured and the underinsured, makes available more than 50 different generic medications approved by the Food & Drug Administration for health problems such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and depression. A company employee who witnessed a family member struggle to pay for medications inspired the idea for the program.

"Every day, millions of people make the difficult choice between paying for medications or paying for other important items they need, like food and rent," said Cynthia Mainers, VP for Patient Savings and Advocacy. "Rx Outreach is a safe, affordable, and easy way for people of all ages, including the uninsured and the underinsured, to receive medicines they need," she said.

Rx Outreach is designed to complement other prescription drug assistance programs. According to ESSDS data, the program's eligibility requirements will accommodate approximately 25 million more people than are typically served by other patient assistance programs. "Rx Outreach is uniquely positioned to offer more people access to medications, and Rx Outreach marks the start of our nationwide effort to inform those who can benefit from the program," Mainers said.

Many people know someone struggling to pay for medications, Mainers noted, and pharmacists can help spread the word to their customers as well. "If we each challenge ourselves to find just one person who can benefit from a prescription drug assistance program, such as Rx Outreach, we can quickly close the gap between those who have access to affordable medicines and those who do not," Mainers added.

According to Mainers, Rx Outreach provides three key benefits:

"For consumers who must pay the full cash price for their generic medicines, Rx Outreach offers significant savings. Without access to Rx Outreach, consumers would pay an average of $100 for a 90-day supply of a medicine available through the program. For some Rx Outreach medicines, the cash price can run as much as $400 for a 90-day supply," she explained.

Widespread support Express Scripts uses its bulk buying clout to purchase low-cost drugs for the program. Some manufacturers also are contributing their drugs to the program. Express Scripts said that all profits would be put back into the program to ensure that the program is a long-running success.

In 2004, 70,000 people enrolled in a trial Rx Outreach program. Approximately half of these participants were Medicare beneficiaries. The company reached patients through contacts with physicians, clinics, and Volunteers in Health Care, a resource center for organizations that provide care to the uninsured.