HEALTH

Drug offerings expand under Merck Helps programs

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck is expanding its patient assistance program, the drug maker said Wednesday.

Merck announced an expansion of the number of drugs it offers under its Merck Helps programs, including the Merck Patient Assistant program, the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance program, the ACT program for cancer and hepatitis C drugs, and the SUPPORT program for HIV and AIDS drugs. The program provides medicines and vaccines free of charge to eligible patients, primarily the uninsured, who make up to 400% of the federal poverty level and can’t afford Merck drugs without assistance.

 

“Merck has historically recognized the critical need for people to have access to the prescription medicines and vaccines they require, even if they lose their insurance,” Merck EVP and chief medical officer Michael Rosenblatt said. “Our patient assistance programs now provide access to even more medicines for chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, allowing us to reach more people in need.”

 

 

Merck also said that its philanthropic arm, the Merck Company Foundation, made a grant to NeedyMeds, a nonprofit group that helps people who can’t afford medicines or healthcare costs by making information about assistance programs available. NeedyMeds plans to use the grant to translate its website into Spanish.

 

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Sanofi-Aventis, Paul and Mira Sorvino launch ‘Diabetes Co-Stars’ program

BY Allison Cerra

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. Sanofi-Aventis has tapped actors Paul and Mira Sorvino to launch an awareness program aimed to help people living with diabetes and those who support them.

 

The "Diabetes Co-Stars" program provides family and friends of diabetics with advice on lifestyle choices, healthy cooking, promoting physical activity and treatment options including insulin, Sanofi-Aventis said. DiabetesCoStars.com provides links to the Sanofi-Aventis diabetes social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter.

 

The website also provides a look into Paul Sorvino’s life with Type 2 diabetes and how he manages his condition. Sorvino was diagnosed in 2006 with the condition, and at the direction of his doctor, he began taking prescription oral diabetes medications, including Sanofi-Aventis’ diabetes drug Lantus. While treatment and lifestyle changes continue to help Sorvino on his diabetes journey, having support from his daughter, Mira, also has helped Sorvino to make the right decisions.

 

"’Diabetes Co-Stars’ will help inspire people to find support for their diabetes journey," Sorvino said. "After my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized the importance of learning how to manage the condition, and that I don’t have to do it alone. I also worked with my doctor to discuss lifestyle changes and to find a treatment plan that works for me."

 

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Rite Aid adds mobile text alerts option for Rx reminders

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Tuesday added automatic mobile text alerts to its opted-in contact options to notify patients when their prescriptions are ready, and for refill and pickup reminders. Patients now have the option to receive such messages by text, e-mail or automated phone call.

Customers who “opt in” to the pharmacy alerts system by signing up for the service online also can be notified if there are any issues encountered after they’ve dropped off their prescription.

“This new service greatly enhances our ability to communicate with our patients while using the communication methods they prefer,” stated Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy. “In addition to convenience, these alerts also help our patients stay current with their prescriptions and improve patient compliance in taking medications as prescribed.”

To receive alerts, patients must have an online MyRiteAid.com account and complete the MyPharmacy online profile.

The addition of text messaging to Rite Aid’s pharmacy alerts program is powered by Sybase 365, the company noted. “According to the Sybase 365 Global Consumer Acceptance and Usage Report released earlier this year, the study found that consumers are looking for more from their phones, with 70% reporting interest in additional mobile services,” said Marty Beard, Sybase 365 president.

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