Very Unusual Philanthropy: Free Drugs

November 4, 2010; Source: NJ.com | In the post-election cycle now upon us, and with the GOP threatening to repeal health care legislation, at least some people in Orange, N.J., can breathe a sigh of relief that someone is looking out for them.

Earlier this week the Heinz Family Philanthropies announced that it is pairing with pharmaceutical companies to provide discounted medicines for people suffering chronic illness while making it free for the uninsured. In making the announcement at press conference, Mayor Eldrige Hawkins Jr., said, “We are going to be able to provide residents without healthcare with access to affordable prescription drugs. In tough economic times, people’s access to healthcare and ability to pay for drugs is greatly diminished.”

NJ.com reports that the mayor approached the Heinz Family Philanthropies a year ago and asked for help in bringing this program—which operates elsewhere in New Jersey and other states—to Orange. “It was clear from what he described that there were residents in need,” the foundation’s president Jeffrey Lewis said. “That is a goal of ours to make sure that people in need have access to the medication they need.” To qualify for free brand-name medicine, individuals must be uninsured and their personal income can’t exceed $22,000 or top $44,000 for a family of four.—Bruce Trachtenberg