Pfizer donates $3.7 million worth of Nicotrol patches to the New York City Department of Health

To help smokers quit, Pfizer is donating $3.7 million worth of eight-week courses of the Nicotrol patch, a leading nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

Studies have shown, and the 2003 effort by the New York City Health Department confirms, that smokers are more likely to successfully quit when using an NRT product. Unlike the DOHMH's previous patch program, for this initiative, the product is being distributed in a targeted manner and not through wide release to the general public.

“We are very grateful to Pfizer for this donation,” said DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “These medicines save lives. We know from our previous experience of providing free patches to New Yorkers that people stop smoking when they get the medicine and support that they need. We will work closely with health care providers and community organizations to help educate residents and encourage and support their efforts to quit smoking. This initiative is likely to save the lives of more than a thousand New Yorkers.”

For this targeted initiative, the patch will be provided through the New York City Health and Hospital Corporations' (HHC) adult medicine, women's health, and smoking cessation clinics, where priority will be given to current HHC patients who lack insurance coverage or who are not covered for the patch. (Medicaid covers NRT, including the patch.) It will also be provided on a limited basis through DOHMH community events, community organizations, and to doctors and their patients through the DOHMH District Public Health Offices in Harlem , the South Bronx, and North and Central Brooklyn. In all, 25,000 courses of NRT will be distributed.

"We're delighted to partner with the DOHMH to help further reduce smoking rates in New York City, Pfizer's hometown for more than 150 years," said Karen Katen, President of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals and Executive Vice President of Pfizer Inc . "Even though smoking rates are going down in New York City thanks to its model tobacco control programs, smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death here and around the world. Today's donation will help give a fresh start to thousands of New Yorkers who wouldn't otherwise be able to kick this deadly habit."

The initiative was announced this afternoon at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Pfizer's Karen Katen joined Commissioner Frieden; Van Dunn, MD , MPH, HHC Chief Medical Officer/Senior Vice President of Medical and Professional Affairs ; Marc Robinson, President of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, the unit of Pfizer that markets the Nicotrol patch; and Pete Velez, Executive Director, Elmhurst Hospital and Senior Vice President, Queens Health Network. Several patch recipients were also present.

“HHC's health care providers are actively identifying smokers at our facilities and are strongly encouraging them to quit with the support of counseling and medication,” Dr. Dunn said. “HHC serves 1.2 million people and is the single largest provider of health care services to the uninsured, immigrant and working poor populations. Now we will be able to offer nicotine replacement therapy to 15,000 patients who would otherwise not be able to afford it, and we are very grateful to Pfizer for making this possible.”

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