June 2nd, 2008 5:33 pm | by Shawn Stott News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

"Help Is Here," and It's in the Form of a Drug Bus

Tags: Spotted
"The Help Is Here Express" bus tour made a stop in Portland Monday morning, June 2, outside of Portland State University's Millar Library. "Funded by America's pharmaceutical companies," the tour, which started in 2005, has reached all 50 states and over 2,000 cities with the the goal of making it easier for Americans to obtain prescription drugs "free or nearly free."

Actor Joe Pantoliano, who played “Ralphie Cifaretto” on The Sopranos, among many other roles, and has suffered mental depression, is traveling with the Partnership for Prescription Assistance's bus tour helping to spread the word. He told WWire that "80 to 90 percent of people with mental illness can be helped [with prescription drugs]," and the tour is simply giving them a vehicle (literally) to do so. Onlookers were given DVDs featuring stories of Pantoliano's and Jerry Mathers' struggles with chronic diseases (Mathers—you know, "the Beav"—suffers from diabetes) and pamphlets featuring Montel Williams. They then were ushered onto the bus in order to register for one of the 475 patient assistance programs through PPA—200 of which are offered by pharmaceutical companies, whose industry group, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) produced the DVDs in conjunction with PPA. PPA boasts more than 2,500 brand-name and generic drugs at discounted prices. The tour is backed by some of the most profitable businesses in the world, and has the star power to prove it.

But it sounds a lot like the Weed-man giving you a sample of his "new stuff" in the hopes of seeing you really soon. And the "Help Is Here Express" isn't the place to look for straight talk about insurance reform or questions about the drugs' effectiveness.

The drug bus will be stopping in a town near you. Other Oregon stops include Salem, Eugene, Bend, Coos Bay, Grants Pass and Ashland.

["Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?": Joe Pantoliano as Cypher in The Matrix]
Joe Pantoliano as Cypher in The Matrix
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