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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Most Independent Charity Drug Assistance Programs Exclude The Uninsured

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined independent charity prescription drug assistance programs in the U.S. and found that nearly all — 97 percent — did not provide coverage for uninsured patients.

The researchers also found that these programs were more likely to cover high-cost, brand-name prescription drugs despite the availability of lower-priced generic options.

The findings were published online August 6 in JAMA.

Patient assistance programs run by independent charities help patients pay for the cost of prescription drugs. Many of these programs are funded by pharmaceutical companies. Not much is known about how these programs function — what drugs they cover, how patients qualify or the names of funders, including pharmaceutical companies.

The study primarily focused on the six largest charity organizations which together offered 274 different disease-specific patient assistance programs in 2018.

All 274 patient assistance programs had a combination of the following requirements for patients to participate: health insurance, a prescription for a drug covered by the program and proof of income. Five hundred percent above the federal poverty line was the most common income eligibility limit, making 80 percent of Americans eligible for assistance.

Ms. So-Yeon Kang, a research assistant in the Bloomberg School Department of Health Policy and Management, is the study’s lead author and Dr. Gerard Anderson, professor in the Bloomberg School Department of Health Policy and Management, is the senior author.

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