Drugmakers can provide free medication to patients who can't afford their prescriptions after a major industry-funded charity said it wouldn't offer patients assistance in 2018, the federal government said.

The charity, Caring Voice Coalition, had received hundreds of millions of dollars from drug companies, but said last week it won't offer patients financial assistance in 2018 after losing a crucial stamp of approval from the U.S. government.

Caring Voice, one of the biggest patient-assistance charities in the U.S., helps people afford costly drugs by funding insurance co-pays. But in late November, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services rescinded its favorable advisory opinion, in part because the charity had provided drugmakers with data that could help them see if their contributions were helping their own customers. 

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