Florida ADAP Patients Find New Hope

Patients waiting for life saving AIDS drugs in Florida got a shot in the arm yesterday when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced that they will supply up to $1 million in free AIDS drugs to those disenrolled and wait-listed by state cutbacks to the ADAP program.

AHF, through its AHF Pharmacy, will supply listed HIV/AIDS patients on medication therapy as those patients wait for their medications to be delivered from private patient assistance programs. This will avoid any interruption in lifesaving medication therapy while patients transition onto patient assistance programs.

Said Michael Weinstein, the President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation “We hope to help ease the state’s AIDS drug crisis and get vulnerable Florida AIDS patients back on to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment,” said Michael Weinstein. The initial plan will offer five-day supplies of medications to patients, allowing private drug companies ample time to confirm patient eligibility for their respective patient assistance programs. Weinstein’s goal is ultimately to spur greater efficiency among those drug companies whose enrollment protocols may be unnecessarily cumbersome.

“The program AHF Pharmacy is currently 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 and for those 350 who will be disenrolled due to the funding crisis.”

AHF Pharmacy will dispense the drugs to patients at its pharmacy locations. In addition, AHF Pharmacy will provide free shipping and delivery services for patients who need it.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program is a Federal/State program that pays for life-saving AIDS drugs for low-income Americans. Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Unfortunately, the need for these programs expands every year, as more and more people become infected and diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; each year thousands of newly diagnosed HIV patients turn to ADAPs because they cannot afford their lifesaving medicines.

AHF has proposed other initiatives to streamline the drug donation process by centralizing the availability of free treatment for patients at the pharmacy level. While some state officials expressed interest in the AHF concept, all major pharmaceutical companies rejected the idea. Meanwhile, Florida has become the twelfth state to institute a waiting list for patients to receive lifesaving AIDS drugs. As of December 10th, there were 2,396 Floridians on the state’s ADAP waiting list out of a total of 4,543 people on waiting lists in nine states.

In a World AIDS Day Speech to South Florida, SFGN Publisher Norm Kent decried the situation as “unconscionable, and an affront to the LGBT community. Congratulations to AHF for standing up to legislative apathy. Were only our elected leaders to do so as well.”