The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and NitroMed, Inc. (NASDAQ:NTMD) today announced a strategic alliance to implement measures to narrow health care disparities that exist between African Americans and Caucasians in areas of access, affordability, quality, infrastructure and compliance.
As part of the partnership, NitroMed is providing a three-year $1.5 million grant to establish an organizational infrastructure to allow the NAACP to develop health advocacy initiatives towards equal access to quality healthcare.
Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP President and CEO, said, “The NAACP is proud to partner with NitroMed and is committed to assisting at the grass root and legislative levels. The availability of new life-saving treatments such as BiDil, supported by NitroMed’s innovative program to make the drug accessible, is consistent with our guiding principle that affordable health services without bureaucratic and financial barriers should be considered a fundamental societal obligation.”
The NAACP intends to roll out programs that include: increasing visibility and awareness in the black community; developing an Advocacy Action Plan with the NAACP National Health Leadership Committee; implementing a two day training with the seven regional health care representatives of the NAACP Health Advocacy Department; rolling out the Plan for the top tier state and local NAACP chapters and during the 2006 National Leadership Summit; and developing a consensus paper on the state of African American health care and the impact of Medicare.
NitroMed is the maker of BiDil® (isosorbide dinatrate/ hydralazine HCl), a prescription medicine approved this year by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of heart failure in black patients as an adjunct to other standard therapies. Earlier this year, the NAACP issued an Emergency Resolution encouraging black patients to discuss BiDil and other treatments with their doctors.
Dr. Michael Loberg, NitroMed Chief Executive Officer, said, “Because the FDA’s approval of BiDil is specifically for the treatment of black heart failure patients, it is our responsibility to put real resources toward policies and programs that address health care disparities. At the same time, together with the NAACP, we are doing our part to remove all barriers to access of BiDil.”
Given the pending implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act, the NAACP, along with NitroMed, the National Institute of Health and other partners, is embarking on a significant effort to assist with patient enrollment in Medicare Part D.
The NAACP and NitroMed partnership includes an initiative to inform Medicare beneficiaries about prescription medicine coverage options, which become available January 1, 2006 and to encourage people to enroll early. The deadline to be eligible by January 1 is December 31, 2005. Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for drug coverage regardless of income or health status. Enrollees may choose from an array of plans relative to types of medicines patients need and pharmacies included as well as co-pays and deductibles required.
With its commercial launch this summer, NitroMed introduced NitroMed Cares™, a patient assistance program that helps to make BiDil accessible to all patients who need it, regardless of income level or health insurance status. Through the program, NitroMed provides BiDil free of charge to heart failure patients who have no health coverage and whose annual incomes are up to three times the poverty level according to Federal guidelines.
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