A group of ten pharmaceutical companies yesterday launched a new prescription drug savings card in a bid to help reduce the burden on approximately 36 million Americans without health insurance.

Enrolment in the Together Rx Access card, which began yesterday, will be available for individuals without health insurance, with incomes of up to $30,000 dollars (or $60,000 for a family of four) who can expect savings of between 25%-40% off the price they pay more than 275 branded prescription drugs, as well as discounts of a wide range of generic products. The card bears similar hallmarks to the Together Rx card that was launched back in 2002, but includes more of the major pharmaceutical companies and offers cost savings on significantly more drugs [[11/04/02b]].

Health secretary, Tommy Thompson, heralded the latest card as a “common-sense, pragmatic way to give the uninsured access to prescription medicines.”

The launch comes at a time when the Industry’s reputation is at an all-time low, with companies coming under fire for charging high prices for their drugs, which many cannot afford. A recent report from the AARP – a non-profit organisation, which represents millions of US citizens aged 50 years and older – showed that manufacturers’ prices of drugs are increasing by more than triple the rate of inflation [[07/12/04c]]. Firms are also under pressure from several parties trying to sanction the re-importation of drugs back into the USA from countries such as Canada where they are significantly cheaper [[22/04/04b]].

- The participants are: Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Takeda, and TAP Pharmaceutical Products.