Treatment breakthroughs that change patients’ lives are happening all the time. The challenge, however, is helping patients gain access to these medicines when they need them.
That’s where Pfizer RX Pathways comes in. It’s a program that connects patients to medicines through insurance support, co-pay support and medicines for free or at a savings, said Niesha Foster, vice president, product access, global health and patient access at Pfizer during a presentation at Black Health Matters Virtual Summit earlier this month.
“Progress has been made in helping uninsured patients get access to their meds, but many still need help,” Foster said. “Uninsured rates are still quite high. Ten percent of the U.S. population is uninsured. These rates are staggering in ethnic communities, with 11 percent of African Americans uninsured.”
People with insurance don’t always fare much better, despite the belief that being insured is the solution to access to medications. That because many people are underinsured. “So their insurance is insufficient to pay for medicines. Having insurance doesn’t guarantee access to medications,” Foster said.
What we do know is that having access to meds and taking them as prescribed can lead to health equity. So Pfizer RX Pathways uses advocates to help patients navigate the free, four-step process.
The first step has patients answer questions to determine eligibility. Questions cover the medication prescribed, prescription coverage, number of people in the household and household income. Once results have been reviewed, patients can complete forms to start service.
“From end to end, patients can apply online and access status of their account 24 hours a day,” Foster explained. And through PAP Connect, a new digital portal, they can request refills, track their medications, fill out enrollment paperwork and re-enroll in the program.
Foster is most proud of the suite of offerings Pfizer RX Pathways provides. In addition to the company’s patient assistance program, there’s also an institutional patient assistance program, where patients can go to federally qualified health centers and free clinics nationwide to get medicine samples; a savings program that helps uninsured people access medication at savings regardless of income; treatment-specific patient support hubs; and co-pay and savings offers.
“In the last five years, Pfizer has helped more than 1.2 million patients receive more than eight million Pfizer prescriptions at a savings or for free,” she said. “But many manufacturers have similar programs. I highly recommend calling your prescription’s manufacturer.”