As the State of Florida grapples with a budget shortfall that is crippling its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and forcing the state to place more than 1,700 low-income Floridians on waiting lists to access lifesaving AIDS medications, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has proposed a solution to state health officials and seven leading AIDS drug companies that would create a public/private partnership to resolve the drug crisis and get vulnerable Florida AIDS patients on to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.
Under AHF’s proposal, the AIDS drug companies—all of which already have some form of patient assistance programs for low-income patients in need of medications—would provide free drugs to Florida patients on waiting lists, and AHF, along with other participating pharmacies, would absorb the cost of dispensing the drugs by waiving dispensing fees and other applicable service fees.
AHF currently serves more than 15,000 Floridians living with HIV/AIDS through a variety of programs including eight AHF Pharmacies located throughout the state. Florida now has the nation’s largest ADAP waiting list as well as the third highest HIV population in the country.
“To address the AIDS drug crisis in Florida, AHF is proposing a program that streamlines the drug donation process by centralizing the availability of free treatment for patients at the pharmacy level,” assert Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We propose utilizing available resources—free donated medications from all the major AIDS drug companies—coupled with the streamlined dispensing of the drugs via AHF’s own and other pharmacies located throughout Florida.” Kahane says that by better harnessing the goodwill of the drug companies, Florida can manage the AIDS drug crisis in a more workable manner.
“The program AHF is proposing will be implemented at no cost to patients, the State of Florida, and the pharmaceutical companies,” said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “AHF’s proposed program is only for patients on Florida’s waiting list. Any willing pharmacy is welcome to participate in this program. Participating pharmacies will dispense the drugs to patients at pharmacy locations.”
On June 1st, Florida became the twelfth state—and the first high-prevalence state, as it ranks third in the nation for the number of reported cases—to institute a waiting list for patients to receive lifesaving AIDS drugs.