People Struggling To Buy Prescriptions Get Help

It's a road trip with the purpose of helping people struggling to pay for prescription drugs. Since April, the "Help Is Here Express" has traveled the country connecting people with programs that offer free or reduced cost prescription medications. On Wednesday, it arrived in Biloxi.

"That's what I need. I need help paying for medicine," said Linda Bourgeois while thumbing through a leaflet for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

For years, Bourgeois has struggled to pay hundreds of dollars a month for her own medications. Then a few months ago, her adult daughter who doesn't have insurance got sick.

"The fact that my daughter needs medicine that she can't afford," said Bourgeois. "I've been trying to help her and I can't afford it either, so I'm here to see if these people can help her."

The "Help Is Here Express" is the brainchild of several pharmaceutical companies. They formed the Partnership for Prescription Assistance to connect people with 475 assistance programs.

"We recognized that it was difficult for some people to identify what programs were out there, which programs they might qualify for and the like. What we did with the Partnership for Prescription Assistance is to make this a one stop clearinghouse," Spokesperson Ed Belkin said.

After answering a few questions, people know within minutes which programs they likely qualify for. Since Katrina, officials say the need for prescription help has grown.

"We recognize that for people that have been in the wrath, in the way of Katrina, just how devastating it's been," said Belkin. "What we're trying to do is help speed along the process for those folks."

Linda Bourgeois says she was happy to have someone point her in the right direction.

"I thought it was very nice and easy when someone else is doing it," said Belkin. "If I had been doing it myself, I'm not sure I would have been able to."

To see what help you qualify for, call the Partnership For Prescription Assistance at 1-888-4PPA-NOW or visit

Officials say 1.5 million Americans including 33,000 Mississippians have benefited from this free service.