Drugmakers can provide free medication to patients who can’t afford their prescriptions after a major industry-funded charity said it wouldn’t offer patients assistance in 2018, the federal government said.
The charity, Caring Voice Coalition, had received hundreds of millions of dollars from drug companies, but said last week it won’t offer patients financial assistance in 2018 after losing a crucial stamp of approval from the U.S. government.
Caring Voice, one of the biggest patient-assistance charities in the United States, helps people afford costly drugs by funding insurance co-pays. But in late November, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS OIG) rescinded its favorable advisory opinion, in part because the charity had provided drugmakers with data that could help them see if their contributions were helping their own customers.
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“After considering all options and our current circumstances, I deeply regret to announce that CVC will not open financial assistance for any disease fund in 2018,” Gregory Smiley, the charity’s chief executive officer, said in a statement on its website. He urged patients “to seek out alternate resources” and said, without providing details, that Caring Voice was “developing new ways to continue our charitable mission.”
Smiley did not immediately respond to an email seeking additional comment. In a statement last month, Caring Voice said “we continue to concentrate on ensuring that each of our practices at CVC follow both the letter and spirit of all applicable laws and regulations.”
In a letter posted on its website, the HHS Office of Inspector General said that drug companies that provided free drugs to patients who had been receiving assistance from Caring Voice last year would not be subject to administrative sanctions as long as they distributed them in a safe and consistent manner.