AstraZeneca to provide free prescription drugs and expand to more facilities

WILMINGTON, Del. AstraZeneca will provide its prescription drugs free of charge to low-income patients, according to Wednesday’s reports.

AstraZeneca said it plans to add 150 more health care facilities to its program, bringing the number participating to 270 by the end of 2008, though the new locations are to be determined, said Karissa Laur, who directs the company’s patient assistance programs.

Patients who don’t have prescription drug coverage and whose household income is $30,000 or less for an individual, or $60,000 or less for a family of four, are eligible for free AstraZeneca prescription drugs under the program. The objective is to better harmonize patient care and access to needed medications by providing prescription drugs at the place where many uninsured people receive their health care.

AstraZeneca, through its various patient assistance programs, said it saved $407 million last year for more than 530,000 patients in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Providing prescription drugs directly to health care facilities is beneficial because it can “expedite the process and get drugs to patients faster,” said Laurie Felland, a health researcher with the Washington D.C-based Center for Studying Health System Change.

Health care providers turn to the pharmaceutical companies as a major source of the medications they need to treat their patients, most of whom lack prescription drug coverage. Last year, approximately 47 million Americans lacked health insurance, up 2.2 million from 2005.

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