Some New York City pharmacies have begun offering incentives, including free cell phones, pagers, and fax machines, to encourage HIV-positive customers to have their antiretroviral prescriptions filled at their businesses, the New York Post reports. Flushing, N.Y.'s Vital Drugs and Campus Drugs have had more than 100 clients fill their anti-HIV prescriptions to receive an "under-the-counter offer" of a free fax machine. "We're just meeting the needs of our customers. Sometimes their doctors or nurses are too busy to fax a prescription over," drug store manager Shelly Malik told the Post. Fair Pharmacy in the Bronx offers those who fill prescriptions for anti-HIV drugs a free pager, which is used by the pharmacy to remind the people to take their medications, according to company pharmacist Danny Deng.
But critics say the free giveaways are simply ways for the drug stores to "get in on the action because there is a tremendous amount of money in this," Rosemary Lopez, associate director of the AIDS Center of Queens County, told the Post. An antiretroviral drug regimen can cost between $10,000 and $20,000 per year, or higher if newer, more expensive drugs like Roche's Fuzeon, which alone costs $20,000 per year, are prescribed.