Recognizing that prescription drug costs are one of many barriers to treatment, the College of Pharmacy is working to raise awareness of resources that can ease the financial burden for patients in need.
The Co-Pay Relief program, managed by the Patient Advocate Foundation and now supported by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), offers RFU pharmacy students the opportunity to guide qualifying patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases toward resources that can help pay for prescribed medications, provider visit co-pays, medical devices and other diabetes-related expenses.
“We’re educating future pharmacists who can support the patient in a holistic way,” said Jolee Rosenkranz, MPH, COP, associate dean for external relations and instructor for the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “For patients with diabetes, paying for medication is one piece of what can be an incredibly costly puzzle. And these costs are enduring.”
The ADA recognizes disproportionate rates of diabetes among people of color. Black Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease — clear evidence of systemic health inequity.
The foundation estimates that 13 million of the 34.2 million people in the United States who have diabetes would qualify for financial support under the co-pay relief fund. People with diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,752 per year, according to the ADA.
“There is great demand for financial assistance and support for those with diabetes,” Kayla Carter, ADA associate director of development for Illinois and Wisconsin, said in announcing the program. “The co-pay assistance fund will be a main priority of the ADA for years to come.”
The College of Pharmacy has partnered with the ADA for a decade, collaborating on outreach to the ADA’s broader community and to specific patient populations, including children and adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and populations at increased risk for developing the disease.
“The co-pay relief fund supports those with costly chronic illnesses by offering a whole-patient, comprehensive disease, state-focused approach,” Ms. Rosenkranz said. “Pharmacists advocate for their patients every day by helping them navigate access to available drug-specific savings, typically offered by the manufacturer. Promoting the fund and other programs like it during these conversations will allow RFU future pharmacists to further empower their patients to be their own advocates.”