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Prescription drug help is rolling in to L.A.

July 22, 2009 |  5:04 pm

A Montel Williams sighting in Los Angeles may not be such a big thing. But free or nearly free prescription drugs definitely would generate some interest, and the bus that helps connect patients in financial need with prescription-assistance programs will be in L.A. on Thursday and Friday.

The Help Is Here Express will be at the offices of Alma Family Services in Pico Rivera on Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. and at the offices of the Bienvenidos Community Health Center  in Los Angeles from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday. (Check the end of this item to see several more stops planned) Specialists aboard can help connect the uninsured, out-of-work and financially ailing to about 475 patient assistance programs, including 200 run by the makers of prescription pharmaceuticals.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is sponsored by the nation's pharmaceutical research and manufacturing companies. The effort -- for which longtime talk-show host Montel Williams is a celebrity spokesman -- has rolled through about 2,500 cities in four years. It has helped nearly 6 million patients, including 345,000 Californians, get information about how to catch a break on high prescription-drug costs.

Because the Help Is Here Express is sponsored by the makers of brand-name drugs, make no mistake that it helps market those drugs to patients, some of whom might as easily and far more cheaply use a generic drug counterpart. With many retail outlets filling generic prescriptions for just a few dollars apiece, it's always worth knowing whether the drug you take is available in a cheaper, generic version. Here's a place for you to type in the name of the drug you take and check.

And don't forget to check out some of the resources offered by the California Health Advocates, a nonprofit group that advocates for California's Medicare recipients.

In addition to its visits to Pico Rivera and in Los Angeles, the bus will make the following stops:

Friday, July 24


9 – 11 a.m.

Neighborhood Wellness Center

& the Azusa Senior Center

740 N. Dalton Ave.


Saturday, July 25


9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Senator Correa’s Health Fair

at Sigler Park

7200 Plaza St.


Monday, July 27


9 – 11 a.m.

St. Joseph Center

204 Hampton Drive


South Gate

1 – 3 p.m.

South Gate Senior Center

4855 Tweedy Blvd.


Tuesday, July 28

Long Beach

9 – 11 a.m.

Long Beach Department of Health



1 – 3 p.m.

Assistance League of Southern California

1360-1370 North St. Andrews Place

-- Melissa Healy