PHARMACEUTICAL ALLIANCE OFFERS SAVINGS TO LIMITED INCOME SENIORS ON MORE THAN 150...

PHARMACEUTICAL ALLIANCE OFFERS SAVINGS TO LIMITED INCOME SENIORS ON MORE THAN 150 MEDICINES THROUGH ONE FREE CARD

Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis unveil consumer-friendly Rx savings card


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New York,–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–September 23, 2002–Millions of people enrolled in Medicare now have access to savings on more than 150 widely prescribed medicines through one free, easy-to-use card unveiled by seven major pharmaceutical companies. By offering one-card access to savings on more medicines than any existing pharmaceutical company savings program, the Together Rx™ Card makes it easier for eligible Medicare enrollees, of which more than 2.8 million are of Hispanic origin, who have no prescription drug coverage to get the medicines they need to help them maintain active and independent lifestyles.

Through the Together Rx™ Card, Medicare enrollees without public or private prescription drug coverage and with incomes of up to $28,000 ($38,000 for couples) can anticipate obtaining savings ranging from approximately 20 to 40 percent and, in some cases, more (1), off the price they usually pay for prescription medicines at the pharmacy, directly from the manufacturers through a variety of savings options. The individual companies’ sales forces, which total more than 30,000 representatives, will assist in making enrollment materials available through participating pharmacies, physicians’ offices, and community centers.

In addition, during the enrollment process, individuals of more limited income who meet eligibility requirements for patient assistance programs (PAPs) provided by the individual companies or by foundations supported by each of the individual companies will be notified by McKesson, the Together Rx™ Card administrator, that they may qualify for further savings-and in some cases free medicines. The members of Together Rx™ are committed to maximizing enrollment in the Together Rx™ Card and at the same time to identifying patients who may qualify for their independent PAPs.

“The lack of prescription drug coverage among Medicare beneficiaries is a serious national problem that no individual company can solve,” said executives from the seven participating companies (2). “The program is being provided until a much-needed Medicare prescription drug benefit is enacted and implemented. While the Together Rx Card is an excellent start, it is not the single long-term solution that is needed. We commend President Bush for his leadership in calling for the enactment of a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit this year.”

The founding members of Together Rx, L.L.C., are: Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson (3), and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Together, they offer savings on more than 150 prescription medicines, including 26 different medicines used to treat diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cancer, allergy, asthma, arthritis, and depression, which are among the most common conditions affecting Hispanics. Together Rx encourages other pharmaceutical companies to join the coalition in this significant step forward.

McKesson Corporation, the largest distributor to the retail pharmacy market, will administer the program on behalf of Together Rx. Pharmacies across the country, including Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target, Albertson’s, Costco, Kroger, and Safeway, have shown strong support for the Together RxTM card. In addition to accepting the card at their retail outlets in communities across America, participating pharmacies have made the commitment to pass through direct to the patient 100% of the savings being offered by the pharmaceutical companies. Together Rx is actively speaking with many other pharmacies and expects to enlist additional support and commitment in the near future.

“This is a valuable program-the best yet in its convenience and breadth of medicines,” said Dr. Marta Sotomayor, President of The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCoA). “NCOA will work to promote broad public awareness of this program through its websites and its national network of thousands of community service organizations.”

“Americans are becoming older and living longer, ushering in a ‘longevity revolution.’ I regard Together Rx as a very significant interim step until we have a larger government and/or public-private solution,” said Felix Gonzalez, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Miami based Alhambra Medical Group. “Simplicity and savings are now matched with the broadest selection of important prescription medicines, making the Together Rx Card the best option to date for Americans trying to maintain their health and independence as they grow older.”

The Together Rx™ Card addresses the preferences of older Americans. According to a leading nonprofit health-care reform group, having access to a wide range of medicines and choice of pharmacy are what older Americans value most when it comes to a prescription drug savings program (4).

“On behalf of the National Medical Association, we welcome the Together Rx Card,” said Lucille C. Perez, M.D., President of the National Medical Association. “With its broad eligibility requirements, it will help a greater number of older Americans and Medicare beneficiaries afford the important medications their physicians prescribe. More than 2.5 million African Americans are over the age of 65, and more than 1.5 million are Hispanic. Our physician members see a disproportionate number of America’s seniors who do not have any form of prescription drug coverage. We applaud the companies that have created this program to help those with the greatest need.”

Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson called the card a “tremendous new initiative,” adding, “The Together Rx Card will make life-saving medicines more affordable for millions of seniors and is a testimony to the way the private sector effectively and creatively addresses the needs of consumers and patients throughout the country.”

In addition to the NHCoA and NMA, leading health and medical organizations that have expressed their support for the Together Rx™ Card include the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American College of Physicians – American Society of Internal Medicine, the American Diabetes Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Health Council, the Alliance for Aging Research, and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. (A complete list of organizations that have expressed support for the card is available).

The Together Rx™ Card also has received broad support from members of the U.S. Congress and governors, including House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. (Billy) Tauzin (R-LA), Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman John Breaux (D-LA), House Ways & Means Committee Vice Chairman Philip Crane (R-IL), House Chief Deputy Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-CA), Rep. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA), Gov. John Rowland (R-CT), and Gov. Scott McCallum (R-WI). (A complete list of federal and state government officials that have expressed support for the card is available.)

Those who qualify can enroll immediately in the Together Rx™ Card free of charge by calling 1-800-865-7211 (Spanish-speaking operators are available) or visiting http://www.Together-Rx.com/espanol/index or http://www.Together-Rx.com. Enrollment forms and information are also available through participating pharmacies, as well as in physicians’ offices.

About Together Rx™, L.L.C.

Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals, nutritionals, and medical products, including devices and diagnostics.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture, and marketing of ethical (prescription) pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world and holds leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, oncology, anesthesia (including pain management), cardiovascular, central nervous system (CNS), and respiratory products. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a multi-billion healthcare business with more than 10,000 employees.

Aventis Pharmaceuticals

Aventis is dedicated to improving life by treating and preventing human disease through the discovery and development of innovative pharmaceutical products. The company’s prescription drugs business is conducted in the U.S. by Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. With headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., Aventis Pharmaceuticals focuses its activities on important therapeutic areas such as oncology, cardiology, respiratory/allergy, diabetes, arthritis/osteoporosis, anti-infectives, and the central nervous system.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life.

GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson, with approximately 101,800 employees, is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of health care products, as well as a provider of related services, for the consumer, pharmaceutical and medical devices and diagnostics markets. The company is committed to enhancing people’s lives through products and services across the entire healthcare spectrum. Johnson & Johnson has 197 operating companies, including Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceutica Products L.P., and McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals. Its operating companies are in 54 countries around the world, selling products in more than 175 countries.

Novartis

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation researches, develops, manufactures, and markets leading innovative prescription drugs used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, including central nervous system disorders, organ transplantation, cardiovascular diseases, dermatological diseases, respiratory disorders, cancer, and arthritis. The company’s mission is to improve people’s lives by pioneering novel healthcare solutions.

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation is the leading provider of supply, information and care management products and services designed to reduce costs and improve quality across healthcare. McKesson solutions empower healthcare professionals with the tools they need to deliver care more effectively and efficiently. McKesson ranks #31 in the Fortune 500.

(1) The range of anticipated savings reflects the mix of programs presently offered by each participating company, and is subject to change. Each company sets its own level of savings independently with a minimum discount of 15% off its list price to wholesalers. Actual consumer savings will vary depending on the pharmacy’s customary pricing for the specific drug. Products offered are subject to change.

(2) David B. Goffredo, President, Pharmaceutical Products Division, Abbott Laboratories; David Brennan, President and CEO, U.S. Operations, AstraZeneca; Richard J. Markham, Chief Executive Officer, Aventis Pharma; Donald J. Hayden, Jr., President, North American Medicines, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Robert Ingram, Chief Operating Officer and President Pharmaceutical Operations, Global, GlaxoSmithKline; Christine Poon, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group, Johnson & Johnson; Paulo Costa, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation..

(3) Johnson & Johnson is participating in the Together Rx™ Card through its Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, L.P. companies.

(4) Overview of Prescription Drug Discount Cards; Alliance for Health Reform Briefing, Nov. 19, 2001, presented by Craig Fuller, NACDS president and CEO. Accessed at: http://www.allhealth.org/recent/audio_11-19-01/fuller1119.ppt.

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CONTACT:

Angela Sustaita

Edelman

Phone: (212) 704-8101

PHARMACEUTICAL ALLIANCE OFFERS SAVINGS TO LIMITED INCOME SENIORS ON MORE THAN 150 MEDICINES THROUGH ONE FREE CARD