20 Aug Astra Zeneca to Overcharge Safety-Net Healthcare Providers
By 340B Matters
Mega drugmaker AstraZeneca has decided now is the ideal time to overcharge safety-net healthcare providers valiantly fighting the global pandemic.
The company announced, starting October 1, it will stop offering lower pricing to America’s safety-net providers participating in the 340B Drug Discount Program if those medicines are sold at more than one off-premises pharmacy.
Astra Zeneca is plenty rich. The company posted a net profit of $738 million for the second quarter of 2020. Yet its new 340B policy would yank untold millions of dollars from America’s safety-net hospitals and clinics to further fill its overstuffed coffers. The greedy, unilateral move comes as safety-net hospitals struggle to survive the once-in-a-lifetime financial and operational challenges presented by the pandemic.
Astra Zeneca’s new policy will also limit the access of underserved and rural patients to vital medical services funded by 340B discounts – and to the free and low-cost medicines, they make possible. Furthermore, the racial disparities in the US from the pandemic are well-documented. The percentage of African American patients treated in 340B hospitals is 66 percent higher than at facilities not in the program. Astra Zeneca’s announcement is not only an attack on these health providers, it’s also an assault on communities of color.
The 340B statute is crystal clear in its requirement that drug companies wishing to participate in state Medicaid programs must provide discounted pricing to hospitals and clinics that treat large numbers of underserved patients. No limitations or conditions are allowed.
Eli Lilly was the first pharmaceutical company to blatantly announce price increases for safety-net hospitals, but Astra Zeneca’s move has upped the ante by limiting 340B discounts on its entire product line to one in-house or contracted pharmacy per provider, creating yet another barrier to healthcare. That includes hundreds of Federally Qualified Health Centers and Ryan White AIDS clinics.
Choosing a national pandemic to undermine our nation’s health care first responders and the communities they serve is unconscionable.
Does AstraZeneca have no shame?
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