A Grim Surge at Hospitals in the 340B Drug Discount Program | 340B Matters
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06 Apr A Grim Surge at Hospitals in the 340B Drug Discount Program

By 340B Matters

New Orleans is the newest epicenter in the fight against COVID-19. The disease is hitting especially hard due to poverty and the poor health of many of the region’s residents.  

The historic city currently has the highest per-capita death rate from the coronavirus in the United States. It’s seeing 32 deaths per 100,000 residents – twice that of New York.

On the front lines are New Orleans East, Truro Infirmary and University Medical Center, all hospitals in the 340B drug discount program. 340B is a federal statute that makes discounted medication available to hospitals and clinics that treat high numbers of needy patients. For the safety-net hospitals above, savings from the program help them provide essential health services to the public, including free medications during the crisis.

It’s an exhausting and dangerous duty during a pandemic. Sadly, nurse Larrice Anderson recently succumbed to complications caused by COVID-19. The young mother of two worked at New Orleans East Hospital.

“As we battle this global pandemic, caregivers throughout the world and in our community are bravely serving on the frontlines. These medical professionals — people like Larrice — are true heroes, deserving of our gratitude for their dedication, sacrifice, and service to patients during this unprecedented time,” said the hospital in a statement.

Michigan is also getting hard hit, with 17,221 reported coronavirus cases and 727 deaths as of April 6. Detroit is of particular concern given economic and health demographics similar to New Orleans. Henry Ford Hospital, also in the 340B program, has been seeing a huge uptick in coronavirus patients.

And in a grim trend, Henry Ford Hospital ER nurse Lisa Ewald died of COVID-19 a few days ago. “Our hearts ache for our employee’s family, friends and colleagues,” hospital CEO Wright Lassiter said in a statement. “As healthcare providers on the frontlines of this pandemic, we know we are not immune to its traumatic effects.”

The Galveston National Laboratory, part of the University of Texas Medical Branch, is working hard to better understand the coronavirus and how it spreads. UTMB is a 340B facility and is just one example of how the program supports our national health system.

Even in light of daily staff heroics at safety-net hospitals across America, big pharmaceutical companies haven’t stopped their ongoing efforts to kill the 340B drug discount program. Why? Because it slightly reduces their excessive profits. Sadly, that seems to be more important than people — even during a national health crisis.

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