Montel Williams Educates Americans

Humanitarian, Author, Talk Show Host Montel Williams To Help Educate Americans About Drug Assistance Programs

Washington, D.C. - Montel Williams, an Emmy-winning syndicated talk show host, author and motivational speaker, has been named the national spokesman of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a patient assistance program clearinghouse launched last April. Since then, the PPA has matched more than 1.2 million Americans to public and private patient assistance programs that may provide them with free or nearly free medicines.

Williams, who is well-known for his work with charitable and patient organizations, has agreed to become national PPA spokesman as America's pharmaceutical research companies expand their efforts to raise public awareness of the more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs available to people in need.

A prominent feature of the PPA's nationwide effort is the "Help is Here Express" – two buses that crisscross the country, stopping in hundreds of towns and cities to educate uninsured and under-insured patients about drug assistance programs. Efforts are made to match patients with programs that appear to meet their needs.

In addition, a major national advertising campaign will be launched this month to draw attention to the free or nearly free medicines available to millions of Americans.

Williams has recorded national television ads and public service announcements for the PPA and will appear with a bus in a number of cities across the nation to promote the 475 drug assistance programs, beginning with a stop in San Diego on January 23 at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the naming of Williams as national PPA spokesman gives the effort "an articulate, compassionate advocate whose views are well-respected throughout America. Montel has embraced our goal of reaching as many uninsured, under-insured and low-income Americans as possible in what is going to be a continuing, long-term effort to assist people who need a helping hand."

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (toll-free, 1-888-4PPANOW; www.pparx.org) is the only source that provides a single point of access to the more than 475 patient assistance programs, which include more than 180 programs offered by the pharmaceutical industry. The PPA educational effort is supported by America's pharmaceutical research companies working with doctors, pharmacists, health care providers, patient advocacy organizations and community groups. More than 70 major national organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Urban League, United Way of America, Easter Seals and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, are involved in the campaign. PPA now has more than 1,200 local and state partners located throughout America as well.

"Millions of patients are already receiving free or nearly free drugs from these programs, but it is clear that millions of other Americans from all over the country -- in cities and rural areas alike – are not taking advantage of the help that is available to them," said Williams, who regularly addresses critically important societal issues on his show.

"The PPA is a concerted and effective effort to reach those who still need help. And I'm going to do everything I can to get the word out. As a patient who must cope every day with the effects of multiple sclerosis, I understand only too well the importance of having access to the medicine you need."

Prior to hosting his own television show, Williams was a special duty intelligence officer in the Navy, specializing in cryptology. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he received a number of military awards and citations during his naval career. Before attending the Academy, he had enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from a Baltimore, Maryland high school. Last year, he was named chairman of the National Veterans Association (NVA) and has taped public service announcements for both NVA and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).

He has worked with an array of charitable organizations, including The Make A Wish Foundation, The Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation, Diamonds for Humanity and The Humane Society of the United States. Currently, he serves on the boards of the We Are Family Foundation, devoted to promoting tolerance and diversity through educational programs aimed at the youth of America, the PVA and The Montel Williams MS Foundation.

Williams' 2004 autobiography, "Climbing Higher," a New York Times best-seller, details his struggles with multiple sclerosis. He is also the author of another New York Times best-selling autobiography, "Mountain Get Out of My Way."