alt=a pen is signing a patient assistance application. Bottles of medicine, a stack of money, an airplane, and a red cross sparkle around the papers.

Patient Assistance Programs for SMA

Affording your spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) drugs and other treatment costs can be challenging. Luckily, there are programs that may be able to help offset the cost of treatment.

One type of program is called a patient assistance program (PAP). PAPs are also sometimes called drug assistance programs.1-3

What are PAPs?

PAPs are programs that are often funded by pharmaceutical companies, state governments, and/or nonprofits. The goal of PAPs is to help cover certain costs of medical treatments.

PAPs help many people. It is estimated in the last decade that PAPs have helped 36 million people cover their medical costs.1,3

The benefits of PAPs are different depending on the program. But in general, they offer free or low-cost medicines if you do not have insurance or if you cannot afford your medicine even with insurance. They sometimes cover other treatment expenses like insurance deductibles, travel expenses associated with treatment, and testing.1

How to use PAPs?

Before applying to a PAP, it is a good idea to make sure you meet the requirements. Just as benefits vary depending on the program, different programs have different requirements. Typically, to qualify you need to be a legal U.S. resident and meet some sort of income requirement.1

To get benefits, you will have to submit an application. The application will usually ask about your medical history and income. The length of the application will depend on the program. Most programs will require a doctor’s signature on the application, and some also require your doctor to fill out a form.1

What PAPs are there for SMA?

There are some nonprofit organizations that provide assistance specifically for SMA:2,3

  • National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD): NORD offers many disease-specific assistance programs. The available PAPs for SMA are listed on the NORD site. Programs may cover medication, diagnostic testing, and/or insurance copays.
  • Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN Foundation): The PAN Foundation’s PAP for SMA offers up to $6,500 annually to cover treatments or insurance copays and deductibles. Patients can apply for additional funding each year. This program is for people who already have health insurance. Full eligibility requirements and more information are available on the PAN Foundation site.

Where else can I find PAPs?

You can also look for a PAP for your specific medications. If you know the pharmaceutical company that makes your drug, you can look on their site for a PAP. It may be easier to use a nonprofit resource site that tracks different PAPs. Medicare also has resources for finding PAPs for people on Medicare drug plans. On these sites, you can search by drug and find available programs.1

The application process for some PAPs can be challenging. If you need help with the application, there are resources available. Many programs will help you fill your application out for free, or for a small fee. You can find local help with applications online.1

This is not a complete list of PAPs available for helping with SMA treatment. Additionally, the availability of these programs may change with time.

If you have difficulty finding an assistance program or covering your treatment cost, additional resources are available.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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