Healthcare that works: Putting patient access first

AstraZeneca US Chief Operating Officer Marion McCourt at the Bloomberg Healthcare Innovations Conference.

In an increasingly competitive and challenging business environment, we at AstraZeneca put patient access to medicine at the center of our decision making from the earliest days of discovery to even after the medicine goes off patent, AstraZeneca US Chief Operating Officer Marion McCourt said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Healthcare Innovations Conference in New York, McCourt said this approach demonstrates our commitment to healthcare that works – not just for individual patients but for the system as a whole. (You can watch a video of the full panel discussion here.)

And a key way to make sure healthcare works for patients is to ensure that payers will pay for our medicines once we deliver them to market.

“When it comes to responding to the challenges in today’s marketplace, it comes down to clinical trial design, collaborations, partnerships with other companies – large and small – and bringing appropriate products into the marketplace with a clear value proposition,” McCourt told the conference, which included payers, providers, pharmaceutical companies, investors and more.

That commitment to access extends from discovery to the use of real-world evidence to collaboration to new ways of delivering our medicines. Here’s a look at those four areas:

Discovery

McCourt said AstraZeneca has transformed our research and discovery to ensure our medicines and the evidence supporting them can answer payers’ questions about value so patients who need them are able to benefit from them.

“We use rigor to make sure we are comparing our medicines to what’s available in the market, to stand against the therapies of choice,” McCourt told the audience at the Bloomberg conference.

That process starts early. We begin talking to payers and health technology appraisers throughout the development of medicines to discuss where the greatest clinical needs are and what type of data will be required to provide the evidence to support access and reimbursement in specific healthcare settings.

We incorporate structured input regarding payer needs and value into our portfolio governance, forecasting and decision-making processes. If we don’t believe we will be able to demonstrate the value of an investigational medicine to those who will pay for it, we won’t invest in it.

Additionally, we are designing our clinical trials with an understanding of payer needs to minimize the uncertainty associated with predicting the use and associated outcomes of our new medicines in the real world.

Real-World Evidence

McCourt also said AstraZeneca uses real-world evidence as part of the body of evidence to demonstrate the value of our medicines and our commitment to healthcare that works.

“We are more frequently looking at market experiences to show the value proposition for patients, providers and payers,” McCourt said.

We are significantly expanding the types of evidence individual payers want to demonstrate the value of our medicines. We recognize the differences in payers’ needs and use real-world evidence to answers the questions:

  • “Why do patients need this medicine?”
  • “Which patients should get it?”
  • “Why is your drug better than the alternatives?”
  • “Why is it worth the cost?”

Our investments include building a skills center of health economists, epidemiologists, programmers, statisticians and informaticians and forging partnerships with healthcare data companies – HealthCore in the US and IMS Health in the EU — insurance groups, governments and healthcare authorities.

This approach is important because it can play a key role in painting a clearer picture of how a medicine will impact patients, healthcare systems and costs in real world settings.

We will be taking a closer look at real-world evidence here on the blog later in the week.

Collaboration

Providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies have an unprecedented opportunity to work more collaboratively together to understand and recognize value that innovative medicines play in improving patient health and managing the total cost of care.

Substantial gains in health have been achieved over the last 50 years through the introduction of new medicines. People today live longer, better lives through the application of science and technology in medicine. However, significant unmet need remains in many diseases and in many parts of the world.

Over the years, spending on prescription medicines has been 10 percent of the total healthcare cost equation. Now we need a greater lens on what makes up the remaining 90 percent.

How can we build a purchasing system that values innovation appropriately because of the vital role it plays in managing costs and delivering better outcomes for patients?

The health system needs to remove the silos to healthcare budgets and avoid short-term budget-cutting exercises that ignore the value question. We need to be able to recognize that an innovative medicine may increase the medicines bill for a therapeutic area but improve outcomes and save costs in other areas, such as hospitalizations and need for surgeries.

At AstraZeneca, we believe the solutions to the rising costs of healthcare will be found because the pharmaceutical industry, payers, providers and policy makers all share the goal of improving health outcomes for patients in cost effective ways.

Filling The Gaps

Gaps remain despite the health system’s best efforts around patient access. For those who don’t have coverage or who need medicines not included on formularies, we are finding new ways to help physicians and patients access our medicines directly.

For example, we recently introduced our first direct-to-patient program allowing patients with prescriptions for this medicine to purchase it directly from AstraZeneca.

This program was built in response to calls from patients in plans with policies that made the medicines unaffordable to them. Programs like this are one way we can help meet needs of patients who want to receive and pay for their medicine on their own.

For those low income patients in Medicare or without any coverage, we offer our AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs through which qualifying patients receive our medicines for free. We have one of the industry’s longest running programs and are committed to making sure this program remains available as a last resort for those who would have no other means of being able to access their AstraZeneca medicines.

Taken together, these areas reflect how we have adapted the way we discover, develop and deliver our medicines to patients. We understand that if payers refuse to reimburse for our medicines and patients cannot afford them, they will be of little benefit to patients.

That is why we are building and expanding our relationships and partnerships with payers, providers and other stakeholders to ensure we are able to truly help address patient and healthcare system needs.

National Drug Take-Back Day – September 29

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is providing another opportunity for those who have accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.

AstraZeneca supports the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to help people dispose of unwanted or unused medicines – and help prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse.

Take Back Day will be held on September 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time across the country. You can find a collection site near you by following the directions in this link.

Drug Take-Back Day in April saw a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications turned in for safe and proper disposal.

If you would like to dispose of your medicines before (or after) Take Back Day, the pharmaceutical industry works with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the American Pharmacists Association on the SMARxT Disposal Program to help provide answers to common questions on the safe disposal of medicines.

More information on that initiative can be found here.

AZ&Me here to help in times of disaster

AZ works with organizations like AmeriCares to deliver disaster relief.

What happens if you can’t get to your home or your doctor’s office because of a hurricane or other disaster and your medicines are inside?

As noted here, AstraZeneca works with partners such as AmeriCares and Direct Relief International to help get our medicines along with humanitarian aid to patients who have been struck by disaster.

In addition, the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program has policies in place to help patients maintain a consistent supply of their AstraZeneca medicine while they are managing through this kind of crisis.

Below, Jennifer McGovern, Director of the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program, discusses how AstraZeneca helps during times of disaster, as well as what patients and health care providers need to know about receiving medicines through our program in these circumstances.

How does AstraZeneca assist communities when disaster strikes?

How have previous disasters informed AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program policies?

What do patients and providers need to know if they live in an area struck by disaster?

 

AmeriCares aids communities when disaster strikes

Family kits provide basic essentials such as toothbrushes, soap and washcloths to those struck by natural disasters.

When wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes strike, communities must respond to a sudden surge in demand for medical care and medicines. With hurricane season underway, AmeriCares – a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization – has posted a timely article about what goes on behind the scenes to be response-ready when disaster strikes.

Here, Garrett Ingoglia, Director, Emergency Response for AmeriCares, shares details about how his organization works in disaster-struck communities and how they collaborate with companies such as AstraZeneca.

Garrett Ingoglia leads AmeriCares’ emergency preparedness and response efforts

What kind of support does AmeriCares provide for disaster relief and how quickly does AmeriCares deploy those resources?

AmeriCares provides medicine, medical supplies and other emergency items to help people who have been affected by disasters in the United States and around the world. We respond to approximately 25 disasters per year, including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural and human-caused events.

Here in the U.S., AmeriCares can deploy resources very quickly. We often send our first shipment out within 24 hours of a request for assistance, and we can get emergency supplies into the hands of individuals and families within 72 hours of their initial request.

How does AmeriCares assess the needs of people in disaster areas?

In a disaster situation, we assesses emergency needs by reviewing situation reports produced at the local, state, and Federal government levels, and by working with our local partners — clinics, food banks, and departments of health — to understand the magnitude and type of disaster-related need. We also participate in coordinating calls with relevant state and local Voluntary Organizations Operating in Disasters (VOAD) chapters to get a clear understanding of the need as well as how other organizations are responding, so we do not duplicate effort. In addition, we often deploy staff to the affected area to assess needs and gain situational awareness.

How does AmeriCares get medicines into the hands of patients quickly in an emergency?

Great partners and strong logistics are two reasons why we are able to provide such critical assistance to patients so quickly. On the “supply” side, corporations like AstraZeneca provide us with critical medicines and supplies needed to save lives and improve health following a disaster. On the “demand” side, our extensive network of clinics and other response partners assess immediate needs and provide the emergency supplies directly to those who need it most. Our strong logistical capabilities enable us to deliver supplies to our partners—by land, sea or air—quickly and efficiently.

How do industry partnerships such as that with AstraZeneca make a difference to AmeriCares and the people you serve?

We value the industry partnerships we have in place to help ensure that important pharmaceutical products are available in the AmeriCares Emergency Pharmacy in our Stamford warehouse on an ongoing basis. For example, whenever a U.S. emergency arises, AstraZeneca product donations are ready to go within hours and AstraZeneca replenishes the supply inventory on an as needed basis.

AstraZeneca supplies have helped hundreds of people here at home and around the world who have been affected by disasters. In the U.S., AstraZeneca products have been particularly helpful in providing comfort to individuals displaced from their homes by disasters. For example, when tornadoes ripped through eastern Kentucky in March of 2012 and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes, AstraZeneca’s hygiene kits allowed 250 of these displaced families the opportunity to brush their teeth, bathe with soap and clean their clothes. While these are tasks some might take for granted, they can become a challenge in the face of a natural disaster.

In late June and early July of 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire swept through the Colorado Springs area, destroying more than 300 homes and filling the air with thick, black smoke. Medical clinics in the area reported an increase in the number of patients suffering from respiratory problems, particularly those with chronic conditions. AstraZeneca provided nebulizers and respiratory medications to help individuals with respiratory conditions who were impacted by the smoke.

These are just a few examples of how AstraZeneca and AmeriCares have worked together to make a difference for communities, families and individuals affected by disasters. We look forward to continuing our work with AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical partners in the future.

AstraZeneca answers top questions about prescription savings programs

Jennifer McGovern, Director, AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs

We get a lot of questions about our prescription savings programs – what is available, who is eligible, how to access them and more.

Here, Jennifer McGovern, Director of the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs, answers some of the questions most frequently asked by patients, caregivers and health care advocates.

Why do you do this? AstraZeneca is committed to offering great medicines that make a meaningful difference to patient health. We know that our medicines can only help patients if they can access them. This is why we’ve been offering these programs since 1978.

Where can I learn more about the programs? Information about the AstraZeneca suite of prescription savings programs, as well as the program application, may be found at www.azandme.com.

Can AstraZeneca help me with my AstraZeneca medicines if I have recently lost my job? If you’ve recently lost your job, or had a change in marital status or household size you may be eligible to receive your AstraZeneca medicines through the AZ&Me program. Please call 1-800-AZandMe to find out whether you are eligible.

How long can I be enrolled in the AZ&Me program? Enrollment in the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program for People without Insurance is 12 months (rolling) from date of enrollment, with the option for re-enrollment provided the patient is still eligible. Enrollment in the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program for People with Medicare Part D is through December 31 of each year with the option for re-enrollment provided the patient is still eligible.

How soon can I receive my medicine? Medicines are provided to eligible patients usually within 7-10 business days from the time we receive an application, although this time may vary depending on the enrollment process or urgent need.

Is there a way I can see the status of my application or my order? Patients, advocates and providers may see the status of an application or medication order by signing up for the AZ&Me Self-Service website which enables one to see real time status of enrollment, orders and refills. To get more information about this service, or to sign up, please call 1-800-AZandMe.

What if I need more than one AstraZeneca medicine? The AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs enable eligible patients to access all AstraZeneca medicines available on the programs with just one application. Patients should indicate which AstraZeneca medicines they need on their application and submit all appropriate prescriptions. As long as the medicines are included in the program, eligible patients will receive all requested AstraZeneca medicines.

What if I have prescription drug coverage but the AstraZeneca medicine I need is not covered by my plan? If you meet the financial requirements for the AZ&Me program but have prescription drug coverage that does not cover the needed AstraZeneca medicine, it is possible that you may qualify to receive that particular medicine through the AZ&Me program. You should call 1-800-AZandMe to speak with one of our customer service representatives.

What if I am helping someone with his/her enrollment and on-going program use? Can I see the status of his/her application and orders? If authorized by the patient, advocates may gain access to the AZ&Me Self-Service option to check on the status of a patient’s enrollment or order shipment.

I run a healthcare facility and see a lot of uninsured patients. Is there a way I can get medicines for my patients that is easier than enrolling each patient in the program? One of the programs offered in the suite of AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs is a program for healthcare facilities, which provides eligible facilities with free AstraZeneca medicines for use with their patients meeting the AZ&Me enrollment criteria. Please see www.azandme.com for more information.

If I have Medicare Part D but am still finding it difficult to afford my medicines, is there a way AstraZeneca can help me? Also included in the AstraZeneca suite of patient assistance programs is the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Program for People with Medicare Part D. This program provides medicines to eligible Part D patients at no cost.

We invite you to learn more about the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs by reading recent blog posts here and here or visiting the program website.

AZ&Me prescription savings program helps more patients in 2011

Four years after the economic downturn took hold in 2008, we continue to see a record number of patients filling a record number of prescriptions in our AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs.

Last year, AstraZeneca provided $1.1 billion in savings to more than 569,000 patients. State-specific information is listed below (click on the state names to see the full news release for each state).

AZ&Me Program Director Jennifer McGovern shares her perspective on program enrollment along with some of the ways AstraZeneca has worked to expand access to the program for both patients and their providers.

For more information about AZ&Me and to access our online enrollment tool, please visit www.astrazeneca-us.com or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).

Patients helped Savings (millions) Total Prescriptions
Alabama 12,460 $28.6 109,614
Alaska 358 $0.9 2,958
Arizona 1,815 $5.1 17,029
Arkansas 7,550 $16.5 74,220
California 20,369 $46.4 150,455
Colorado 13,539 $25.7 95,229
Connecticut 1,109 $2.7 9,647
Delaware 588 $1.4 6,162
Florida 49,865 $96.6 384,540
Georgia 30,763 $60.8 242,444
Hawaii 225 $0.5 2,023
Idaho 3,892 $8.4 33,732
Illinois 17,140 $38.9 146,673
Indiana 21,022 $34.8 169,527
Iowa 8,182 $19.3 67,126
Kansas 5,132 $13.3 47,113
Kentucky 16,425 $33 152,611
Louisiana 29,404 $44.9 209,894
Maine 1,473 $3.1 14,872
Maryland 2,309 $5.3 22,260
Massachusetts 648 $1.8 5,924
Michigan 14,115 $33.1 129,380
Minnesota 1,248 $3.1 10,529
Mississippi 6,717 $15 61,091
Missouri 12,493 $24.9 103,762
Montana 2,522 $5 22,063
Nebraska 3,275 $7.4 27,490
Nevada 1,502 $3.6 11,764
New Hampshire 2,768 $6.5 31,052
New Jersey 4,041 $10 37,619
New Mexico 1,778 $3.9 12,614
New York 5,016 $13 49,273
North Carolina 34,964 $70.8 305,182
North Dakota 978 $2.4 9,956
Ohio 30,507 $62 249,631
Oklahoma 6,458 $18.1 56,410
Oregon 4,523 $11.3 40,744
Pennsylvania 11,407 $26.8 108,885
Rhode Island 1,328 $3.1 12,179
South Carolina 17,150 $32.5 141,094
South Dakota 1,164 $3.4 12,007
Tennessee 13,535 $38.6 123,840
Texas 92,285 $131.1 588,182
Utah 2,077 $6.1 19,125
Vermont 97 $0.2 872
Virginia 31,975 $53.6 261,826
Washington 3,219 $8.8 28,290
West Virginia 11,708 $23.2 107,071
Wisconsin 5,238 $13.4 47,916
Wyoming 749 $1.7 5,744

More patients eligible for free AstraZeneca medicines

AstraZeneca broadens income eligibility for prescription savings programs

AstraZeneca has broadened the income eligibility for our AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings Programs so that more patients may qualify to receive free medicines.

AZ&Me program director Jennifer McGovern explained that the reason for the change was “to keep pace with the increased cost of living for patients and to ensure they have access to the medicines they need.”

Patients may qualify for the program if they are uninsured or are in Medicare Part D and have an annual household income that falls within the new income eligibility levels:

  • $35,000 for individuals (up from $30,000)
  • $48,000 for couples (up from $40,000)
  • $60,000 for a family of three (up from $50,000)
  • $70,000 for a family of four (up from $60,000)

Please visit our website for a full list of criteria or to apply online.

AmeriCares delivers donated AstraZeneca medicines to clinics

AmeriCares delivers donated AstraZeneca medicines to 100 clinics in 28 states

Today, AmeriCares announced that it has begun delivering several million dollars worth of donated AstraZeneca medicines to help patients who rely on safety net clinics for their medical care.

AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization which delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States.

Among the 100 clinics in 28 states receiving our medicines are:

  •  The Way Free Medical Clinic in Florida, where patients have been hard hit by the collapse of the housing market.
  • Traverse Health Clinic in Michigan, where the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation.
  • Sacred Heart Community Clinic in Texas where 25 percent of state residents are uninsured – the highest rate in the country.

“Our collaboration with AmeriCares is an important way we deliver on our commitment to getting our medicines to people who would otherwise not be able to access them,” says Jennifer McGovern, director of AstraZeneca’s patient assistance programs. “Free clinics such as these serve a vital role in our communities and we are proud to help them help their patients manage their health.”

This is the third consecutive year AstraZeneca has supported AmeriCares aid deliveries in the U.S. with a major donation. As we’ve shared here, AstraZeneca also supports AmeriCares’ global disaster response work and medical aid deliveries in the developing world with product donations.

The National Association of Free Clinics is another excellent resource, offering a useful clinic finder tool that helps people locate free clinics in their areas.

Patient assistance: Understanding patient need

At AstraZeneca, we continue to work with community health clinics and other partners to raise awareness of the prescription assistance that is available for people who need help affording medicines.

A few weeks ago, the AZ&Me patient assistance team met with patient assistance advocates to discuss the evolution of patient needs and how we can help ensure people are benefitting from patient assistance programs.

Here, Nicole Lamoureux, Executive Director of the National Association of Free Clinics, helps us understand more about the patients served by free clinics every day.


Here, Brenda Dane, Director of the West Virginia Prescription Assistance Program, describes how her organization and other community partners have an opportunity to respond to changing patient needs in West Virginia.


To learn if you or someone you know are eligible for the AZ&Me savings programs, click here or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).

Access, affordability and one patient’s experience

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Lisa Scottoline recently wrote about her experience in trying to access one of our medicines – CRESTOR® (rosuvastatin calcium). It is a frustrating – and all too common – example of someone trying to follow her doctor’s instructions and take her medication, but being challenged by the contradictory forces within the health care system, which ultimately lead to higher costs for the patient. Lisa’s doctor prescribed CRESTOR, but her insurance plan wouldn’t cover the medicine and Lisa was faced with a large out-of-pocket expense if she wanted to continue taking CRESTOR.

We have reached out to Lisa to learn more about her challenges and see if there are ways we can help.

CRESTOR has Preferred coverage on more health care plans than any other branded medicine in its class. (Based on Tier 1 & 2 coverage status from Fingertip Formulary® Database as of May 20, 2011.) The majority of people with prescription drug coverage can get CRESTOR for $30 or less per month. (Individual out-of-pocket costs may vary. Commercial insurance only.)

The monthly average list price (wholesale acquisition cost) for CRESTOR is about $130, but pharmacies often acquire the product for less than that. In Lisa’s case, since her insurance was not covering the product, she was asked to pay cash for her CRESTOR. The pharmacy she went to was charging her almost three times the list price for a 30-day supply of CRESTOR!

What was so troubling to us about this story was that Lisa, who had insurance, was unable to get the medicine her doctor thought was right for her. AstraZeneca works hard each day to ensure that as many insurance plans as possible allow patients to get the AstraZeneca medicines that their doctors prescribe.

At AstraZeneca, we realize that cost can sometimes be a hurdle to people filling their prescriptions and taking them as their doctors have prescribed. This is why we’ve created a number of resources to help patients address cost concerns. With the CRESTOR Savings Card, eligible patients with commercial prescription insurance can get CRESTOR for $18 a month. (Subject to eligibility. Restrictions apply. See full eligibility criteria at CRESTOR.com.)

In addition, we provide help for the uninsured and underinsured to access AstraZeneca medicines.  Last year, AstraZeneca helped more than 545,000 patients fill 4.1 million prescriptions, resulting in $947 million in savings to patients.

For more information about CRESTOR, please visit CRESTOR.com.

- Elizabeth Renz, Director, Brand Corporate Affairs at AstraZeneca

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