The use of prescription medicines has become an increasingly important part of quality medical care. Two out of every three visits to the doctor end with a prescription being written. Nearly 3.4 billion prescriptions were filled in India in 2011.

Prescribed medications range from drugs to clear an ear or sinus infection to those used to treat or manage debilitating, potentially life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer. Access to these drugs can mean improved patient outcomes and quality of life, and can help prevent or delay more costly medical problems. Yet, the number of Indians who cannot afford to pay for needed prescription medications is on the rise. This trend poses a serious threat to individual and public health.

Consider the following:

More than 90 million Indian’s do not have health insurance and millions more are underinsured; eight out of 10 uninsured people are from working families

Among those with health insurance, one out of 10 individuals 65 years old or younger and one in three persons over age 65 of age do not have prescription drug coverage

Not surprisingly, people with low incomes, older adults and those suffering with chronic conditions that require multiple medications face the greatest economic burden. These patients also tend to take less of their medication than has been prescribed due to cost concerns. In fact, uninsured adults and their families are twice as likely as insured adults to underuse their medications in order to lower drug costs. Another recent survey of American adults found that in the past year:

One in five adults had not filled at least one prescription

One in seven (14%) admitted taking a smaller dose than prescribed

Slightly more (16%) said they had taken a medicine less frequently than prescribed

The decision to skip or take lower doses of prescribed medicines can quickly lead to serious health complications, increased visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations, especially among patients with chronic medical conditions (e.g., asthma, heart failure, depression).

What are PAPs?

Patient Assistance Programs, or PAPs, have emerged in an effort to help patients who lack health insurance or prescription drug coverage obtain the medications they need. These programs are typically offered by pharmaceutical companies to provide free or low cost prescription drugs to qualifying individuals.

By providing financial assistance for hundreds of medications, PAPs provide a valuable resource to patients, helping them comply with recommended drug regimens and, in turn, obtain better health outcomes.

Millions of People use PAPs to get the medicines they need but can't afford. PAPs are also called patient assistance programs or medication assistance programs. But a majority of Indians does not have knowledge about patient assistance programs offered by Pharmaceutical companies.

Eligibility and Enrollment Requirements

Most pharmaceutical companies voluntarily offer PAPs. It is important for health care providers, patients and caregivers to research and understand the eligibility criteria and application process for specific PAPs as they differ considerably from one program to the next.

In general, most programs require the applicant have:

Limited or no prescription drug coverage from private or public sources;

A demonstrated financial need based on set income and asset limitations; and,

Proof of Indian residence or citizenship.

Steps in the Process

Although there is no standard enrollment process, most PAPs require the health care provider, patient, or both to complete an application form. A doctor's signature is almost always required. Some pharmaceutical companies have a single form applicable to all of their medications while others have a separate form for each drug. today is the only online pharmacy in India to offer prescription savings programs for eligible individuals and families.

Note: Patient Assistance Program Or Medication Assistance Program are issued by the manufacturing companies at their sole discretion and not or its parent company. Free or Low cost medicine under Patient assistance Program are applicable to only a selected number of medicines and not on all medicines as desired by the manufacturing company as per their pricing policies. only facilitates its customer by providing information about the different Medicines that are available for free or at discounted prices by the manufacturing company.

To better understand how the patient assistance Program works we have illustrated an example here below-

-  If you buy 10 Tablets of  XYZ ( Medicine name ) the manufacturing company of such particular medicine may offer an additional 10 or 20 tablets for free under the patient assistance program.