BMT Drugs

Medications

Patients undergoing BMT usually need a number prescription and non-prescription medications for a period of months to years. These commonly may include:

  • immunosupressants to control GVHD
  • immune system “boosters” for red and white blood cells, platelets
  • drugs to prevent infections: antifungals, antivirals, antibiotics
  • antiemetics to prevent and control nausea and vomiting
  • vitamins and minerals to correct deficiencies
  • drugs to treat specific side effects of treatment
  • medicines and supplies for central line care

Some patients will need to continue to take treatment drugs after transplant. Many patients often need to use a number of prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter or OTC) remedies for digestion, nutrition, care of the skin and eyes, and other comfort items.

There is now readily-available information from reliable resources to help consumers learn more about drug:

Oncology Tools website
FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary

Medication information Sheets: A-Z List
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Paying for Medicines

Most BMT patient families find that medicines and supplies are a major expense, with costs multiplied by both the quantity and length of time needed. Medicine costs are also increasingly a problem for insured patients (with public or private coverage) as co-payments and limits on prescription coverage are now quite common.

At the present time there is no ready solution to the high costs of medicines in the US, but there are some possible avenues of help that may be available, including a new program for all residents of WA.  While these programs tend to include more basic drugs needed by the general population, they may be of help to BMT patients as well. . The state programs offer discounts on specific drugs; the other type of programs  offer information and referrals to Patient Access Programs (PAP) of specific pharmaceutical companies. PAPs may offer discounted, or occassionally  free, medicines to patients who meet specific eligibility cirtieria set by the company. Each program for each specific drug has its own  application process and eligibility requirements, often based on documenting very low income, lack of insurance, and citizenship/residency requirements, etc.   PAP requirements may change at any time. There is no charge to apply to PAPs, so be wary of any services that offer to apply on your behalf for a small fee per script, or that  guarantee that you will be accepted into a PAP.  The following medicines-access or access information programs are available as of 2007:

Washington Prescription Drug Program (WPDP)

State Medication Assistance Programs (for residents of other states)

PAP information services, run by community-based organizations:

RxAssist PAP Information Center

Needy Meds

PAP information service run by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, trade association:

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Co-Pay Assistance

Since BMT patients typcially need many different medicines, many of which may be new, very expensive drugs, families often find that even if they have prescription coverage, the co-pays (i.e patient responsibility) required by their insurance plan are a major burden, if not unaffordable.  Some patients may be able to find help with this expense from co-pay assistance programs.

Background: These programs are relatively new, as most began when the Medicare Part D program started in 2006. Because there are limits and gaps in coverage for drugs under Medicare, many of the drug companies began donating funds to third-party charities to which patients could apply for help with these expenses. While the Medicare program is not relevant to most children undergoing BMT, patients of all ages are eligible for co-pay assistance programs, unless programs are restricted to Medicare beneficiaries, The federal government does not regulate  drug prices, PAPs, or co-pay programs. Therefore any of these may change at  any time, and the drug companies each set their own criteria for program eligibility and assistance offered.

Because these programs can change frequently, we have provided information about  a comprehensive,  listing of known co-pay assistance programs, from  a consumer advocacy group,  as well as links to specific programs. Some patient families have reported that it is necessary to be extremely persistent to succeed in contacting the co-pay programs, and many require an initial be made by phone.

Here are some links to co-pay assistance programs:

Medicare Rights Center List of Charity Co-Pay Programs

NMDP Patient Assistance Program
for patients who received a BMT facilitated by the NMDP

HealthWell Foundation

Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief (CPR)

Patient Services Incorporated (PSI)