It’s hard for journalists (and bloggers) to resist a story that they can entitle “Free Viagra,” and pharmaceutical company Pfizer knows it. This recent publicity stunt is still newsworthy even without that headline, because of its purpose, and the problem for drug companies that it illustrates.
Pfizer, like most of the big drug companies, already has a variety of assistance programs for people who have trouble affording Pfizer drugs. For more information about such programs, visit the Prescription Assistance Program site.
So why start a new program for the newly unemployed? Most people don’t now about assistance programs, and those who never expected to find themselves without insurance may be grateful for the new publicity. Also, makers of pricey brand-name drugs are suffering in the current economic climate.
The Chicago Tribune notes:
Pfizer’s program comes at a time when many drugmakers, including Pfizer, have been raising prices on their drugs, partly to offset declines in revenue as the global recession reduces the number of prescriptions people can afford to fill.
The 70-plus drugs covered in the program include several diabetes drugs and some of Pfizer’s top money makers, from cholesterol fighter Lipitor and painkiller Celebrex to fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica and Viagra for impotence. Drugs from several other popular classes such as antibiotics, antidepressants, antifungal treatments, heart medications, contraceptives and smoking cessation products also are included. Cheaper generic versions are available for quite a few of the drugs.
It’s worth pointing out again that yes, many of these drugs are available as generics, or there are similar generic medications that treat the same issue.
Prescription Assistance Program
Pfizer offers free Viagra, Lipitor and other drugs to uninsured, jobless Americans [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks, HiPwr!)