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David Lazarus, in this LA Times story, exposes questionable practices of #BigPharma to appear to care about patients through Patient Assistance Programs that on the surface seem to subsidize the cost of exorbitantly priced #pharmaceuticals.

Yet the reality is that these programs often fall flat in helping patients, but can be helpful in arming pharma companies with slick promotions on how they are helping consumers afford their medications. As we have seen time and again from the pharmaceutical industry, there is not a lot of substance behind their smoke-and-mirrors messaging game.

The story focuses on Ed Wright, who received an expensive prescription medication for free for 14 years through a drug-industry program intended to assist people with limited or fixed incomes. Now he’s rationing his doses after a change to the program that imposed a $1,100 deductible before he can get a refill. Since he cannot afford the deductible, he won’t be able to refill the prescription once it runs out.

Unfortunately, he isn’t alone. Industry watchers say soaring drug prices have prompted many #BigPharma companies to rethink patient assistance programs.

Not surprisingly, a 2009 study published in Health Affairs found that most of these programs run by #BigPharma were reluctant to share details on how many people are served by the program, or the eligibility requirements. As a result, researchers could not elucidate ‘the extent to which these programs provide a safety net to patients is poorly understood.’

Read the full story here.

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