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Get help paying for prescriptions

Posted May 10, 2009
Updated May 11, 2009

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— Some North Carolinians choose everyday between food and medicine.

A study conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found 22 percent of seniors reported skipping medications or not filling prescriptions due to costs, and 23 percent reported spending at least $100 per month on their medications in 2001.

James McLawhorn is among the seniors who have gone without his medications so he could afford to eat.

"Oh yeah ... and I have congestive heart failure and diabetes," McLawhorn said. "I've had to go without my diabetes medicine, insulin, and also some of my heart medicine."

Wake County man gets help with prescriptions Wake County man gets help with prescriptions

Pharmacist Mike James at Person Street Pharmacy, 702 N Person St. in Raleigh, says he hears stories like McLawhorn's everyday.

"They say, 'I can't afford that medication, just put it back in the computer and I'll come later.' A lot of times they don't come back at all,” James said.

James says people should establish a relationship with their pharmacist and be upfront about what they can afford.

"You need to talk to your pharmacist. What are my options? What else can I do? What other paths could I go down? Could you call the doctor and see if they could move this to something else that's less expensive?” James said.

James will call your doctor; ask about generics and free samples. He will also recommend community help agencies and programs so his customers don't go without their medication.

"If it wasn't for that extra help, I couldn't afford my medicine,” McLawhorn said.

McLawhorn has also sought assistance from several area organizations.

"I've cut my drug bill by half by bringing in Hospice of Wake County," he said.

He also gets Medicare, and his dog is fed through AniMeals.

If your pharmacist doesn't have the personal touch, like James, go to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Web site or call the hotline at 1-888-4PPA-NOW. It will connect you with programs offering free or low-cost drugs. However, beware of other organizations that ask for credit card or bank information.

Other programs that offer prescription help:

Rx Outreach

Together Rx Access


SHIIP program in North Carolina

Hospice of Wake County


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ivanaworkalot May 14, 2009

    Together RX is a great program but it only offers discounts on name brand drugs. Most people will try to buy generic drugs which would be cheaper than the discounted rate on a name drug.
    I was without insurance for a while. I didnt get much help from the actual drug companies because they wanted last years tax and salary information. Well, I worked until Oct 2008 but then was unemployed and am still unemployed. So for many of the expensive drugs I needed I didnt qualify for free or discounts from the drug companies (example, Singulair). My husband then lost his job. It was a mess. He got a new job recently and got us both on insurance so now I can get my prescriptions, but if you have been working and suddenly find yourself unemployed and without coverage, frankly you wont get much help. You might be better off buying from Canada... or maybe wait til Obama creates the health plan he is talking about.

  • mjlt3 May 13, 2009

    We need more stories like this for people who need help and don't know where to turn in order to get assistant! It could be the number that save someone's life.