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Free Drugs

By David Mendosa

Last Update: July 22, 2003

Free drugs, anyone? You can get them, but there are some restrictions.

Not recreational drugs.

Of course, we're talking serious stuff here: the insulin, the pills to control your blood glucose, and other medications your doctor prescribes. Not recreational drugs.

Drug Company Assistance:
Every drug company that sells insulin or oral diabetes medications in the United States has a patient assistance program for those who can't afford to pay for these prescriptions. Most of these companies are members of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and are included in its "1999-2000 Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs" located at See also PhRMA's online database to help patients without prescription drug coverage access user friendly information about more than 1,400 medicines offered free through patient assistance programs sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and others. In English the Web site is and in Spanish it is

The only major pharmaceutical company in the diabetes marketplace that isn't a PhRMA member is Novo Nordisk. But it has a separate program for patients who can't afford the treatment prescribed by their physicians. You can call (800) 727-6500.

Other Assistance:
Another option is The Medicine Program. It was established by volunteers dedicated to alleviating the plight of an ever increasing number of patients who cannot afford their prescription medication. This program requires a $5 processing fee. You can find out more about it at

The Institute in Washington, D.C., is a public interest group that has free booklets online about free and low-cost prescription drugs as well as dental, outpatient, hospital, and nursing care. These can be found at

This article appeared originally on the, which is no longer on-line.

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