The New York, New York-based pharmaceutical company announced plans to provide families without drug coverage access to Pfizer medicines at an average savings of 37%. Under terms of the plan, Pfizer will offer uninsured families earning less than $45,000 a year the ability to buy medicines at prices similar to those paid by large purchasers, such as health maintenance organizations (HMO) and large employers . Families without drug coverage making more than $45,000 will be eligible for average savings of 15% off retail prices if they do not have drug coverage.
Additionally, f amilies making less than $31,000 per year (less than $19,000 for individuals) can receive free Pfizer medicines from their physicians’ offices. The medications will also be made available at participating community health centers and hospitals free of charge to eligible families and individuals. Medicare beneficiaries will be charged a flat fee of $15 per prescription after they have exhausted a $600 credit from the federal government.
Enrollment in the program is expected to begin in August. Pfizer did not provide the Web site and phone number that will be used for enrollment at this time.
“I applaud the steps Pfizer is taking today, which will provide America’s uninsured with access to medicine at significant savings. Pfizer is helping those in dire need get the medicine they often require. This effort holds the promise of helping people in real need, and that is vitally important,” said US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York).
Pfizer’s plan comes at a time when health-care rate increases are expected to be in the double-digits again for 2005. Consultants Hewitt Associates anticipates HMOs will hike rates 13.7% in 2005, due in large part to ever-escalating prescription drug prices (See Hewitt: HMO Rates Up 14% in 2005 ).
A copy of Pfizer’s announcement is available at http://www.pfizer.com/are/news_releases/2004pr/mn_2004_0707.html .