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This background paper provides an overview of organized programs that provide access to prescription drug products for uninsured persons, with an emphasis on manufacturer-sponsored pharmacy assistance programs (PAPs) and the federal 340B drug pricing program. It summarizes the chief characteristics of these programs and reviews concerns regarding the reach and efficiency of these efforts. The paper begins with a brief examination of the number of people who lack insurance coverage for prescription drugs and discusses the influence of this gap in coverage on health status. The paper also describes informal mechanisms providers frequently use to help uninsured patients fill their prescriptions, such as sample dispensing. The paper briefly explores the impact of Medicare Part D on both manufacturer-sponsored PAPs and state pharmacy assistance programs that have not traditionally focused on the under-65 uninsured population.

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