ORENCIA – the RA DRUG ADVERTISED DURING THE OSCARS

I am tired this morning – for one reason. I stayed up to watch the OSCARS. For an East Coast girl on a Sunday night, this requires dedication.

I cheered for my favorite movies, actors etc – and over the course of the evening, I became obsessed with something not connected to the show… The commercials for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) new Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug, Orencia (c). The Commercial (which aired many many times) showed a younger woman holding a blue card that said ORENCIA PROMISE PROGRAM. She said that BMS would pay for your co-pay of the medication for 6 months!

SERIOUSLY? Well I am a skeptic, but I looked it up. According to the drug’s website www.orencia.com, if you sign up you must have health insurance (not a governmental funded program), must not live in Massachusetts, and must receive a specific number of infusions. If you don’t like the medication there is a way you can get a refund or rather $500 toward another medicine.

This new program raises all sorts of questions for me:

1. Are you really signing up to be in a study?
2. Won’t your health insurance company put a lien on that $500 since they paid for the drug for many months?
3. Do you have to have a prescription before you can sign up for the “PROMISE” Program?

Well – apparently the answers to the above questions are (1) NO (2) MAYBE and (3) NO!
You can sign up without ever having received a prescription.. Then you go to your doctor and say “Give me this, I have a free co-pay..” Then what if she refuses?

This is where I see a conflict. Patients signing up for medications and pressuring their physicians.

We will see. I would love to hear from anyone on the program or doctors who have been asked to prescribe because of free co-pays.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.