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News you can use, especially if you have respiratory problems



Life is much different today than it was even twenty years ago.  We are bombarded with so much information that it can be impossible to decide where to turn or what to believe.  Today’s economy makes health care choices difficult, even for those with insurance.  People with chronic respiratory conditions experience these frustrations daily.  New respiratory medications have reached the marketplace,  but they come with a high price tag.  The two questions I am asked most frequently are, “Where can I get reliable information about my disease?” and “Is there any help when I can’t afford my medicine?”  Today’s column identifies reliable websites and organizations that offer prescription assistance, information and support for people living with chronic respiratory disease.  The majority of these sources offer their assistance to those with other diseases as well.  Perhaps something you read here will help you to “breathe easier”!

Prescription Assistance


• Check the $4 lists available at many pharmacies. Walgreens and WalMart are two in this area with extensive lists. Unlike with the other programs listed below, there are no income requirements. The medications on their lists are available to anyone.


• Merck Pharmaceuticals has an extensive patient assistance program for people who cannot afford to buy the Merck medications prescribed for them. Some of the covered drugs include Asmanex Twisthaler, Avelox, Dulera, Nasonex, Proventil HFA and Singulair. Visit www.merckhelps.com or call 800-727-5400 to find out more about their program and the other drugs available.


• Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program provides assistance to qualifying individuals who use Spiriva and Combivent Respimat. Contact them at www.bipatientassistance.com or call 800-566-8317.


• Sunovion Pharmaceuticals provides assistance with Brovana, but your health care provider must contact the company on your behalf at 888-394-7377.


• AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals offers the AZ & Me Prescription Savings Program that ranges from help with co-pays to free medication for those without insurance. Their respiratory drugs include Accolate, Pulmicort Flexhaler, Rhinocort, Seroquel and Symbicort. Visit them at www.azandmeapp.com or call 800-292-6363.


• GlaxoSmithKline has an assistance program that covers Advair, Beconase, Breo Ellipta, Flovent, Serevent, Ventolin HFA, Veramyst and more. Learn more at www.GSKforyou.com .


• RxAssist is a comprehensive list of different assistance programs offered by major pharmaceutical programs, including some not listed above.  www.rxassist.org


• Rx Hope is another website that lists assistance programs available for different drugs.  www.rxhope.com/home.aspx


• NeedyMeds is a nonprofit that helps people who cannot afford the costs of medications and/or health care.  Email info@needymeds.com or call 1.978.865.4155.


• NC MedAssist is the statewide free pharmacy program for low-income, uninsured North Carolinians.  To apply go to www.medassist.org/enroll-now or call 1.866.331.1348.


• The HealthWell Foundation CoPay Program provides co-pay assistance based on the applicant’s diagnosis.  Funding for various diseases changes from time to time; currently they do not have funding for asthma drugs, but may have more money in the future.  To check on current covered diagnoses, visit www.healthwellfoundation.org or call 800-675-8416.  The HealthWell Foundation also provides other types of assistance.


• The Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org also works to help people who cannot afford their medications.


• Participation in a clinical trial is another way to get free medication and treatment.  Visit www.clinicaltrials.gov for information on current and upcoming clinical trials.


• If you have emphysema there are two clinical trials currently recruiting participants: the LIBERATE Endobronchial Valve Study (www.pulmonx.com ) and the EMPROVE Clinical Trial (www.EmphysemaTrial.com ).  Both can also be accessed through www.clinicaltrials.gov .  There are very specific requirements for each clinical trial.


Information, Advocacy and Support


• COPD International has weekly newsletters, chat rooms, information and much more.  www.copd_international.org


• American Lung Association offers electronic newsletters, forums and information on a variety of issues facing those of us who breathe.  www.lungusa.org


• The Alpha-1 Advocacy Alliance is the one-stop shop for individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.  www.alpha1advocacy.org


• The Pulmonary Paper is dedicated to Respiratory Health Care.  It is published six times per year.  www.pulmonarypaper.org


• Do you think going on a cruise is impossible if you depend on supplemental oxygen?  The people at “Get Up & GO2” couldn’t disagree more.  Visit their Sea Puffer Cruises at 1.866.673.3019 or www.seapuffers.com .


• More information on traveling with oxygen is available at www.breathineasy.com


• National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has great information on diseases you didn’t even know existed.  www.nhlbi.nih.gov


• Pulmonary Fibrosis patients must visit the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s website at www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org as well as the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis at www.coalitionforpf.org


• Great health information on multiple topics is available at www.healthcentral.com and the sister site, www.copdconnection.com


• The COPD Foundation has a wealth of information available at www.copdfoundation.org


• Pulmonary Hypertension is no longer an automatic death sentence.  Learn more at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association website, www.phassociation.org


• The Emphysema Foundation has information about emphysema at www.emphysemafoundation.org


• Learn more about sarcoidosis through the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research at www.stopsarcoidosis.org


• Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s BETTER BREATHERS SUPPORT GROUP is a free monthly gathering for those coping with chronic lung disease.  Meetings are held the 2nd Thursday of each month, March-December, at 2:30p.m. at the Vidant Wellness Center on Cowell Farm Road.  Call 252.975.4227 for more information.  Refreshments are provided.


Alene Payne Warden, MSHE, RRT/RCP is the Cardiopulmonary Services Manager at Vidant Beaufort Hospital.