10th October, 2002 Many Rhode Islanders can now obtain rebates on Betaseron, a drug to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, after the manufacturer learned that it had misinterpreted Rhode Island law.
Berlex Laboratories, the maker of Betaseron, had excluded Rhode Island (and a few other states) from a rebate program that it started this year, believing that laws in those states prohibited it.
But in Rhode Island, the law prohibits rebates only for people enrolled in Rhode Island Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Elderly, known as RIPAE. People who meet RIPAE's income guidelines can already get Betaseron at a discount and aren't allowed the rebate. Everyone else, however, can participate in the rebate program.
Joan Bennett, a member of the Rhode Island chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, got the ball rolling after she sent away for the Betaseron rebate, and was rejected. She contacted her senator, Donna Walsh, D-Charlestown, and Lt. Gov. Charles J. Fogarty, who explained the law to the drug company.
Berlex will reimburse people for two copayments per year on the drug, up to a maximum of $250. Its program has no income requirements.
Berlex spokeswoman Jane Kramer said her company does not know how many
Islanders use Betaseron, but estimates that there are 3,000 to 4,000
Islanders with multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease of nerves
in the brain
and spinal cord. Betaseron costs about $10,000 a year, but most people
insurance coverage for the drug, Kramer said.
© Copyright 2002, The Providence Journal