Ark. AG: Fla. Firm to Refund Prescription Assistance Fees to Seniors

April 17, 2006

Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe announced that his office reached an agreement with a Florida company that charged Arkansans, primarily seniors, upwards of $200 a year for prescription-drug assistance available elsewhere for free.

Refunds are on the way for 51 Arkansans, and others will be able to file claims to receive their money back as well.

Consumer Savings Direct, doing business as Free Medicine Direct, operated a “Patient Assistance Program” that claimed it would save consumers money on prescription drugs. In reality, the company charged Arkansans to enroll them in existing programs already available for free. In some cases, consumers received no assistance at all, but were still charged.

“This is a company that was taking advantage of vulnerable Arkansans who could least afford the additional cost,” Beebe said. “It targeted low-income seniors and others who needed help to afford prescription drugs and charged them for assistance already available at no charge. We will not tolerate such practices in Arkansas.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Free Medicine Direct will issue a full refund to any Arkansas customer who files a claim directly to the company or through the Attorney General’s Office between now and the end of the year. The 51 Arkansans already receiving refunds will recover an average of $186. The company will also pay the state $5,000, with another $50,000 to be paid if the terms of the agreement are violated.

In its advertisements, Free Medicine Direct implied that consumers could receive assistance from its program that could not be obtained otherwise. However, the company merely promised to aide customers in signing up for existing prescription-assistance programs established by pharmaceutical companies. The same service was available for free or at minimal cost elsewhere, but Free Medicine Direct charged its customers nearly $200 a year for the promise of assistance in accessing the program.

Any Free Medicine Direct customer seeking a refund can contact the Attorney General’s Office at (501) 682-2341, or toll-free statewide at 1-800-482-8982.

Free Medicine Direct has ceased offering its Patient Assistance Plan in Arkansas.

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