Pharmaceutical companies, which have come under fire time and time again for putting profits ahead of patients’ needs, have joined forces with more than 50 national US health organisations in a bid to help patients who lack prescription coverage in the USA get access to the medicines they need.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance claims to be the largest-ever private-sector programme and the only resource that brings together nearly all existing patient assistance programmes. It aims to provide a “central navigation system” that helps patients get access to needed medicines and to offer a single point of access for patients and help alleviate the confusion surrounding the more than 275 public and private patient assistance programmes currently available to help with drug costs.

An awareness campaign is being launched, with television and press advertisements aimed at encouraging as many eligible patients as possible to apply for public and private patient assistance programmes. To find out if they qualify for assistance, patients can visit a website or free phone telephone number. Patients will also be able to receive information on government programmes for which they may qualify, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

“We believe we have a responsibility to not only invent new medicines but to help those in need obtain them,” said Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “This extraordinary new partnership exemplifies our unwavering commitment to helping America’s uninsured.”