DRUG COSTS: Millions of Americans can't afford their medicines, but with lots of research and some patience, they can find big savings.

ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS: Makers of brand-name drugs, the industry's Partnership for Prescription Assistance, the Patient Advocate Foundation and groups helping people with particular diseases can help patients get drugs for free or very little if they meet eligibility rules.

COUPONS AND CARDS: Coupons from drugmakers and discount cards offered by many groups can bring big savings at retail and online pharmacies. But savings vary wildly among different cards, drugs and pharmacies, even in the same chain, so check everything.