May 11, 2010

May 11, 2010
Hope for People on ADAP Waiting Lists

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. My week is off to a good week so far so hopefully yours is also.

My day to day life is pretty much as usual so I would rather talk about some exciting news I heard. Now hopefully this will happen and I am going to be keeping my ears open for further developments. Now everyone should know by now how I feel about men and women in our country being on waiting lists for life saving anti-HIV medications.

Heinz Family Philanthropies, Welvista and Abbott yesterday announced a solution that begins to address the needs of patients waiting for access to HIV medications. These patients are on waiting lists in 10 states for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides help and no-cost medication for those patients who cannot afford their medication, but do not qualify for Medicaid assistance.

In addition to the collaboration with Heinz Family Philanthropies, Abbott is providing a grant to Welvista, a nonprofit organization that fills prescriptions for patients who are uninsured and underinsured. This grant will help provide for a one year program to help any patient on a state ADAP waiting list who needs an Abbott HIV medication. Abbott, the global health care company, makes protease inhibitors that are important components of many HIV combination treatment regimens.

The program eliminates all enrollment forms for these patients. Enrollment is virtually automatic for anyone certified on an ADAP waiting list and can provide direct access to no-cost Abbott HIV medications through Welvista. Patients who are on ADAP waiting lists and need to access this solution to receive their Abbott medications can request their state ADAP contact Welvista. If need exists after one year, the program may be extended.

The solution was developed by the three organizations in response to a call for help from NASTAD (the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors) to find ways to clear the waiting lists and make enrollment simple for patients. The ADAP waiting lists have increased exponentially in some areas due to state budget crises.

This is a national initiative designed to help patients in any state. However, the states that currently have ADAP waiting lists include Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

"Abbott supports extensive patient assistance programs for people taking our HIV medications and this solution with the Heinz Foundation and Welvista is another important way to efficiently help patients in need obtain their antiretroviral therapy at no cost," said Thad Smith, director of Patient Access Programs, Abbott.

"Heinz and Welvista have been quietly creating Rx solutions around the United States. Helping those with HIV/AIDS who are in need of immediate medications is critically important to us. This solution, in conjunction with our partner Abbott, is a great example of how business, philanthropy and nonprofits can create sustainable, long term solutions together that actually work and help people. Our goal is a simple one help every eligible person suffering from HIV/AIDS to gain access to free medications so they never fear they will prematurely enter a long term care facility because they could not get the medicines they need. This solution begins to address this problem and we invite other private sector partners to support this effort to broaden the reach to more patients, "said Jeffrey Lewis, President of the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

AIDS Drug Assistance Programs across the nation are experiencing the worst funding shortfall in many years. Through these efforts, eligible clients currently on the waiting list for ADAPs will be able to obtain Abbott's medications through Welvista," said Ken Trogdon, Chief Executive Officer of Welvista. "Welvista will be working with states across the nation to become their pharmacy connection in providing these patients with Abbott's HIV medications. It is our hope that other private sector partners will join us to further expand the medication reach to even more patients."

About Welvista
For over 17 years Welvista, a nonprofit organization located in Columbia, South Carolina, has been providing access to prescription medications to the uninsured and underserved throughout South Carolina. Welvista partners with 12 branded pharmaceutical companies who donate medications and a network of over 3,000 health care providers making them one of the largest mail-order pharmacies for the uninsured in the nation. In 2009, Welvista filled and dispensed more than 135,000 prescriptions to the uninsured valued at over $47 million. More information can be found at www.welvista. org or by calling 803-933-9183.

About Heinz Family Philanthropies
With offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for almost 20 years, the Heinz Family Philanthropies health care programs have been creating real solutions at the city, county, state and now national level. By using charitable dollars as a venture philanthropy fund, under the leadership of Teresa Heinz, the foundation has successfully launched and implemented Rx solutions across the United States.

So hopefully there is hope for American men and women on ADAP waiting lists. Stay tuned for future updates.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab