NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Apr 22, 2004 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Johnson & Johnson today announced that its U.S. pharmaceutical operating companies will offer their medicines(i) free to low-income Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in many of the new CMS-endorsed Medicare prescription drug discount cards.
Nearly 5.2 million Medicare beneficiaries -- or 70 percent of expected card users(ii) -- could be eligible for this low-income enhancement to the CMS drug discount program.
Medicines from the Johnson & Johnson companies will be provided free to low-income Medicare beneficiaries after they have exhausted their government- provided $600 "transitional assistance" allowance(iii).
Johnson & Johnson U.S. pharmaceutical operating companies will also offer competitive discounts to Medicare beneficiaries who are not eligible for these programs.
The Johnson & Johnson prescription medicines companies together represent the third largest pharmaceutical business in the U.S., with medicines for a range of diseases affecting seniors including REMINYL® (galantamine) for Alzheimer's disease and DURAGESIC® (fentanyl transdermal system) for chronic pain.
"We are committed to ensuring that low-income Medicare beneficiaries have access to our medicines, even if they do not have drug coverage now," said Christine Poon, Worldwide Chairman of Medicines and Nutritionals for Johnson & Johnson.
"We are partnering with many card sponsors, patient and physician groups and the government to help ensure the discount cards are a major success for patients, even before the full Medicare drug benefit becomes effective in 2006."
"I want to congratulate Johnson & Johnson for the step they and other companies have taken to help lower the price of drugs for the seniors who need it the most," said Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson.
The actions announced today are consistent with the long-standing Patient Assistance Programs (PAP) offered by Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies in the U.S. These programs provide medicines free to needy Americans of all ages(iv) who lack drug coverage. In 2003, these Patient Assistance Programs provided in excess of $214 million worth of medicines free to more than 200,000 patients with more than one million prescriptions.
How the Program Will Work
Under the program announced today, Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies will partner with many sponsors of CMS-approved discount cards to ensure medicines(v) are easily and widely available to eligible beneficiaries right at their local pharmacy.
Medicare beneficiaries eligible for this program have incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($17,960 for an individual; $24,240 for a couple) and lack prescription drug coverage.
Beneficiaries receiving medicines free from the Company will likely be asked by their pharmacist to pay a pharmacy-handling fee for processing, dispensing and counseling, consistent with contractual arrangements made between the pharmacy and the card sponsor. It is expected that, for their services, pharmacies will charge about $12 to $15 for a 30-day supply of medicine.(vi) Neither Johnson & Johnson nor any of its subsidiaries are parties to such arrangements and they will not receive any portion of any such fees.
A complete list of participating sponsors will be available on the website of the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid, www.medicare.gov. This information will also be available in the future on www.jnj.com and on the websites of Johnson & Johnson operating companies that market prescription medicines.(vii)
For Patients Receiving Medicare Transitional Assistance
Even after Medicare beneficiaries who are eligible for the government's $600 transitional assistance allowance have exhausted this benefit, they can receive medicines(viii) made by Johnson & Johnson operating companies free of charge. All that these patients need to do is show their participating discount card to the pharmacy.
As noted above, dispensing pharmacies are likely to charge beneficiaries a fee for processing, dispensing and counseling. Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries are not parties to contractual arrangements governing these fees and will not receive any portion of any such fees.
Competitive Discounts for Beneficiaries Not Eligible for Low-Income Programs
In addition to the programs discussed above, Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies are also offering competitive discounts to beneficiaries who do not qualify for the low-income program (i.e., have incomes above 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level) or whose discount card sponsor is not participating in the program offered by the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies.
Medicare Discount Card Background
In implementing the Medicare legislation passed last fall, CMS has approved more than 28 general discount card sponsors (including national and regional programs) as well as 84 Medicare Advantage health plans. Beneficiaries must select one discount card, which they can then use to purchase prescription medicines at discount prices or, if they are low-income, they may take advantage of low-income discount card enhancements, such as the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical companies' program described here.
Enrollment in the new discount cards will begin on May 3, 2004, and discounted prices will go into effect in early June. These discounts will be available until January 2006, at which time Medicare beneficiaries will have access to the comprehensive new drug benefit.
Patient Assistance Programs
Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies also provide their medicines free to needy Americans of all ages who lack prescription drug coverage through Patient Assistance Programs. Eligibility requirements vary but, in general, U.S. patients with incomes under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and lacking drug coverage are eligible. Program enrollment is free and the application process takes two to four weeks.
Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical operating companies will also continue to participate as a founding member of the Together Rx program, which has provided more than $370 million worth of savings to 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries over the past two years. For more information about Together Rx, please visit www.TogetherRx.com.
About Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is the world's most comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of health care products and related services for the consumer, pharmaceutical and medical device and diagnostics markets. The corporation has more than 200 operating companies around the world, including numerous U.S. companies engaged in the research, development or marketing of prescription medicines. The global pharmaceutical research organization of Johnson & Johnson is developing a strong portfolio of new, best-in-class medicines for some of the most important diseases of our time. These companies conduct cutting-edge studies and collaborate with many leading scientific institutions and biotechnology companies.
Headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., Johnson & Johnson has approximately 109,500 employees in 57 countries, selling products throughout the world. Additional information about Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies is available at www.jnj.com.
(i) Not including medicines now currently covered under Medicare Part B. (ii) CMS estimates that 7.4 million Medicare enrollees will participate in the new prescription drug discount card program. We estimate that 70% of that group would be eligible for free medicines from Johnson & Johnson operating companies, that is, they have an annual income below $18,000 per individual or $24,000 per household and do not currently have prescription drug coverage. (iii) Under the new Medicare legislation, transitional assistance of $600 per year is available in 2004 and 2005 to Medicare beneficiaries with incomes at or under 135% of the Federal Poverty Level to help pay for their medicines. Eligible beneficiaries have incomes below $12,123 per year for an individual and $16,362 for a couple. CMS expects that 4.7 million Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for transitional assistance. (iv) While eligibility requirements vary, generally the PAP covers patients with incomes under 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. (v) Not including medicines now currently covered under Medicare Part B. (vi) This estimate is for medicines that typically would cost at retail about $100-$150 per 30-day supply. The actual charge may be more or less than this estimate. (vii) Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, LP: www.janssen.com; McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, A division of McNeil P.P.C., Inc.: www.concerta.com and www.flexeril.info; Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc. : www.ortho-mcneil.com; Ortho-Neutrogena, a division of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc.: www.retinamicro.com and www.tryrenova.com. (viii) Not including medicines now currently covered under Medicare Part B.
SOURCE Johnson & Johnson
Mona Terrell, 908-218-7302, for Johnson & Johnson /Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/467347.html
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