Applying for a Patient Drug Assistance Program

Each pharmaceutical (drug) company with a patient assistance program sets requirements for its own program , but in general, you are more likely to qualify if:

  • You are not covered by a private insurance plan that pays for your prescription drugs.
  • You are insured, but your plan doesn’t pay for one or more of the drugs your doctor prescribed.
  • You do not qualify for any government (state or federal) program that will pay for your prescription drugs.
  • Payment for your prescription drugs at the retail price will cause you a financial hardship.
  • You complete their application process and give the company all the required information.

Some programs allow your doctor to simply write a letter stating that you have a financial hardship. This is where your doctor can play a key role in the application process.

Get copies of the application forms.

First, you’ll need to get an application for each program you wish to apply to. If you’re taking more than one drug, you can apply to more than one program. (You can get the applications by printing them from the websites or calling the program to have them sent to you.)

Follow instructions carefully.

After you have the application forms, read and follow the instructions on each form very carefully. For the most part, they will need your name, address, and contact information.

Some forms request proof of income, and you must provide this to get help. It can usually be copies of your paycheck stubs for the past 3 months, last year’s income tax form, a social security benefit letter, or other proof of income listed on the instructions.

You must answer each question. If you don’t, the application might be rejected.

Ask your doctor to help.

Take each application form to your doctor. He or she will need to fill in medical information, including a prescription for your drugs.

Mail the forms to the drug companies.

Be sure that your doctor’s office mails the forms to each drug company. If you mail the forms yourself, be sure to include the prescriptions that go with each application.

The drug company will review and decide whether to approve your application. If approved, the drugs are mailed within a few weeks, usually to your doctor’s office, at no cost to you. Your doctor will give them to you.

Re-apply for refills.

To keep the supply of drugs coming, you’ll need to re-apply with a new prescription from your doctor a few weeks before you run out of the drug. Some drug companies will include a renewal application in your shipment; with others you may need to call for a renewal form. It’s up to you to submit your refill request in time.

Other helpful tips

  • Remember that drug companies rely on your doctor’s recommendations, so your doctor plays a key role in your acceptance. If your doctor doesn’t know about these programs, ask him or her to call or go to the website of the assistance program you are looking at.
  • Make copies of all the filled out forms and letters before mailing them. Keep your copies in a safe place so that you can use them to fill out the renewal requests.
  • If a drug company doesn’t approve your application, ask your doctor to prescribe a different or generic medicine, and then re-apply to the new drug company.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 28, 2017 Last Revised: June 12, 2017

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