BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB TO EXPAND ACCESS TO ITS CARDIOVASCULAR AGENTS
TO NATION'S UNPROTECTED ELDERLY AND UNINSURED POOR
NEW YORK, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) today announced a program that will ensure the availability of its cardiovascular drugs to those Americans who have fallen through the nation's health care safety net. The new program, which becomes effective March 1, 1992, includes the company's full range of prescription cardiovascular medications.
In making the announcement, the company is expanding its long- standing policy of providing those in need with access to its anti- cancer drugs and to its AIDS drug, VIDEX(R).
"We have taken this initiative to help the many thousands of Americans suffering from cardiovascular disease, the country's largest killer, who each year fall through the nation's health care safety net," said Richard L. Gelb, chairman and chief executive officer, Bristol- Myers Squibb Company. "These people are the unprotected elderly on fixed incomes; workers who are unprotected by employer-purchased health insurance; and those who fall outside the criteria for government assistance or who lack pharmaceutical insurance coverage and cannot afford necessary medications."
Cardiovascular diseases affect more than one in four Americans and are the major cause of death in the United states. Hypertension, which affects about 61 million Americans, is more prevalent in the poor.
"As Americans, we have available to us the widest array of pharmaceutical advances for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Bristol-Myers Squibb is to be lauded for its responsiveness to the American Heart Association's call for the pharmaceutical industry to make these advances available to America's medically indigent," said W. Virgil Brown, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. Last fall, AHA issued a report on the need for access to cardiovascular medications by the medically indigent. According to AHA, as many as 37 million Americans have no health care coverage, a percentage of whom suffer from cardiovascular disease.
In 1973, Bristol-Myers Squibb initiated access to its anti-cancer drugs for individuals who have no prescription insurance and who otherwise would be unable to afford them. In the past five years alone, the company, which is the market leader in anti-cancer drugs, has provided its oncology products, free of charge, to more than 14,000 cancer patients. In September 1989, with the cooperation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and when the company's new anti-AIDS drug, VIDEX (didanosine, ddI), was still in clinical trials, Bristol-Myers Squibb began an unprecedented pre-approval Expand Access Program through which VIDEX was made available at no charge to more than 23,000 AIDS patients. After FDA approval, additional programs were established by the company to ensure that no one in the U.S. is denied access to VIDEX therapy because of the inability to pay.
The cardiovascular program announced today, which will be accessible through physicians using an 800-number, is designed to provide two levels of assistance. First, it will help patients and their physicians identify third-party reimbursement sources to cover the cost of cardiovascular drugs. Second, for those in need, who are ineligible for any type of third-party reimbursement and who meet the program's financial eligibility requirements, the company will provide the medications free of charge.
"This program can make a major contribution to controlling cardiovascular illness within America's medically indigent population," said Harriet P. Dustan, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association and chairperson of the AHA's Task Force on the Availability of Cardiovascular Drugs to the Medically Indigent.
Of the 17 cardiovascular products the company makes, the major products included under the new program are Capoten(R), an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor used in the treatment of hypertension and in the treatment of heart failure; Monopril(R), an ACE inhibitor used to treat mild to moderate hypertension; Pravachol(R), an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor used to control cholesterol; Corgard(R), a beta blocker used to control hypertension and angina pectoris, and Questran(R) and Questran Light(R), cholesterol-lowering agents(A).
Among the Bristol-Myers Squibb chemotherapeutic agents which already are available to those in need are: Megace(R), for breast and endometrial cancers; Cytoxan(R) for malignant lymphomas, Hodgkin's disease and other cancers; Hydrea(R), for melanoma, myleocytic leukemia and ovarian cancers; Paraplatin(R), for ovarian cancer; Platinol(R), for testicular, ovarian and bladder cancers; Vepesid(R), for testicular and small cell lung cancers, and Mutamycin(R), for cancers of the stomach or pancreas. The company makes 16 oncology products, all of which are included in the oncology access program(A).
The company also recently announced that, effective Jan. 6, 1992, it voluntarily implemented a reduction in its pharmaceutical prices to veterans, the military and others in need of pharmaceuticals who receive government aid.
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a diversified health care company whose principal businesses are pharmaceuticals, consumer products, nutritionals and medical devices. It is among the world's leading makers of cardiovascular, anti-cancer, anti-infective, central nervous system and dermatological drug therapies and diagnostic agents, and over-the-counter medicines.
(A) Please see full prescribing information for the above named products.
/NOTE TO ELECTRONIC MEDIA: A video package will be released via satellite, 2-2:30 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Jan. 23, 1992.
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/CONTACT: Jonathan Weisberg of Bristol-Myers Squibb, 212-546-4343, or Karen Reina or Shellie Winkler of Lobsenz-Stevens, 212-684-6300, for Bristol-Myers Squibb/
(BMY) CO: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ST: New York IN: MTC SU: PS-SM -- NY003 -- 2626 01/23/92 08:59 EST