Some NYC Pharmacies Offer Incentives to HIV/AIDS Patients To Fill Antiretroviral Drug Prescriptions
Some private pharmacies in New York City have begun offering incentives -- such as free cell phones or fax machines -- to HIV/AIDS patients who fill prescriptions for antiretroviral medications at their facilities, the New York Post reports. More than 100 HIV-positive people have filled their prescriptions at Vital Drugs in Flushing, N.Y., and nearby Campus Drugs in order to receive an "under-the-counter offer" of a free fax machine, according to manager Shelly Malik, the Post reports. "We're just meeting the needs of our customers," Malik said, adding, "Sometimes their doctors or nurses are too busy to fax a prescription over." Fair Pharmacy in the Bronx offers customers living with HIV/AIDS a free pager when they fill their prescriptions. According to pharmacist Danny Deng, the pharmacy pages patients to remind them to take their medications. However, Rosemary Lopez, associate director of the AIDS Center of Queens County, said that HIV/AIDS patients do not need fax machines, according to the Post. "The pharmacies all just want to get in on the action because there is a tremendous amount of money in this," she said. An antiretroviral drug regimen can cost up to $20,000 a year per patient, according to the Post. AIDS advocates say that patients should not choose pharmacies based on free incentives. John Wright, a lobbyist who represents the New York AIDS Coalition, said, "Ethically, the whole thing sounds crazy. ... Clearly there is not enough monitoring of their business practices" (Olshan, New York Post, 4/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.