Drug companies get OK to continue giving free meds to elderly

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Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson has given drug companies the green light to continue providing free medicines to low-income Medicare beneficiaries even if they are covered under the prescription drug benefit, according to a report in The New York Times.

The announcement could help thousands of Medicare beneficiaries continue to get free medicine even if they're enrolled in the new Medicare Part D benefit.

Drug companies were considering ending their free disbursements due to concerns that the so-called patient assistance programs for Medicare beneficiaries would violate federal anti-kickback laws. The HHS' Office of the Inspector General, however, said that as long as no Medicare payment is sought for the free drugs and financial need is evident, the patient assistance programs would be considered lawful.