Pfizer to give away 70 of its most widely prescribed drugs to those who lost jobs

Pfizer on Thursday, May 14, 2009 announced a new program that would provide some of its existing customers access to more than 70 types of medications at no cost if they have recently been laid off or lost their prescription drug coverage, USA Today reports. The program -- called MAINTAIN, or Medicines Assistance for Those who Are in Need -- will begin July 1, 2009.

To receive the drugs, individuals must show that they have been unemployed since Jan. 1, 2009 and that they no longer have prescription drug insurance. They also must prove that they cannot pay for their medications and that they were taking a medication listed under the program for at least three months prior to losing their jobs. Those who meet the eligibility requirements would receive their medications at no cost for up to one year, or until they have insurance coverage. Pfizer will accept applications through Dec. 31, 2009 (Petrecca, USA Today, 5/15).

According to the AP/Detroit News, medications listed for the new patient drug-assistance program include some of Pfizer's "top money makers," such as the anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor, the painkiller Celebrex, the fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica and the impotency treatment Viagra (Johnson, AP/Detroit News, 5/14).

Ray Kerins, a spokesperson for Pfizer, declined to reveal how much the program would cost the pharmaceutical company or how many potential customers might benefit from it (Bloomberg/Miami Herald, 5/15).

According to the AP/News, the program "could earn Pfizer some goodwill" after "long being a target of critics of drug industry prices and sales practices" (AP/Detroit News, 5/14). Scott Morgan, president of ad agency Brunner, said, "It goes beyond goodwill. There's definitely a marketing strategy behind this about defending against generics and maintaining your consumer base. ... It's a pretty savvy move" (USA Today, 5/15).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



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