NEW YORK, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In response to a New York Times story today on the Pfizer for Living Share Card, Pfizer issued the following statement: Pfizer reaffirms its commitment to making its medicines available for free or at a significant savings to Medicare beneficiaries and other patients in need. In particular, the company said the U Share Card provides superior value to Pfizer's recently discontinued Share Card program. The U Share Card provides superior benefits to those previously available through the Pfizer Share Card program. For example, not only does the U Share Card provide the same $15 flat fee on Pfizer medicines to those with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, it also enables all Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of income, to realize significant savings (between 10 and 40 percent) on a broad range of other branded and generic prescription medicines, not just those provided by Pfizer. In addition, low-income U Share Card participants may also qualify for flat fee prices offered by other participating U Share Card manufacturers such as AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Janssen and Ortho-McNeil. These participants are also eligible for $1,200 of transitional assistance from the government over the next 18 months. "Pfizer has collaborated with United, as well as other pharmaceutical companies, to create a single card that provides one of the most comprehensive drug discount programs currently approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services," said Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hank McKinnell. "It is very misleading for The New York Times to suggest that the transition of the Pfizer Share Card to Medicare-approved Discount Card Programs in anyway represents a reduction in benefits. Further, this kind of article creates unnecessary confusion that may potentially reduce enrollment in valuable prescription access programs." For more than three decades, Pfizer has offered innovative programs to help Americans in need afford Pfizer medicines. One of the most important of these programs, the Pfizer for Living Share Card, was introduced in January of 2002 to provide low-income Medicare beneficiaries with access to Pfizer medicines for a flat fee of $15, through an easy-to-use 24-hour call center with live operators. As a result of Pfizer's comprehensive outreach during the past three years, the Pfizer Share Card has dispensed more prescriptions to Americans than any other individual company card program. The Pfizer for Living Share Card was designed to offer immediate relief until the enactment of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which resulted in the creation of the Medicare drug discount card program earlier this summer. In support of the Medicare Modernization Act, Pfizer, in partnership with United Healthcare Insurance Company, led the creation of the Medicare-approved U Share Prescription Drug Discount Card ("U Share Card"). The U Share Card is sponsored and managed by United HealthCare Insurance Company. Recognizing that not all Medicare beneficiaries who are taking Pfizer medicines will participate in the U Share Card, Pfizer has also has made its $15 flat fee discount structure for Pfizer medicines available to beneficiaries eligible for transitional assistance on most other Medicare approved drug discount prescription discount cards. Dr. McKinnell said, "We understand that Americans need clear information to help them make informed choices. As a result, over the past five months, Pfizer has made twelve separate communications, including mailings and phone calls, to each of the more than 550,000 Pfizer for Living Share Card participants -- over 6.6 million communications in total -- informing them of the superior benefits of the Medicare drug discount card programs, including the U Share Card. In addition, Pfizer has partnered with more than 20,000 community-based and health organizations to carefully communicate this information. "Pfizer also recognizes that there are other patient populations in need of assistance in obtaining Pfizer medicines. For this reason, we recently created Pfizer 'Helpful Answers', which includes a comprehensive initiative to expand access to prescription medicines to an estimated 43 million uninsured patients, which includes a website and 24-hour call center. We encourage any patients or caregiver to contact us at 866-706-2400 or http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com to learn more about the program. "Despite the implications in the New York Times story, Pfizer is committed to continuing to provide the industry's most comprehensive range of access programs to tens of millions of Americans in need." Said James Firman, President and CEO of The National Council on the Aging, "Pfizer continues to be an industry leader in working with national and local non-profit groups to reach out to millions of low-income Medicare beneficiaries, to help them access all available prescription drug benefits as well as to provide extra assistance for those who need it most."
SOURCE Pfizer Inc