18 Nov Biden Transition Team Must Address the 340B Drug Discount Program
By 340B Matters
America’s healthcare first responders are girding for the looming winter surge in the pandemic. Amid the stress and strain, the 340B Drug Discount Program is a lifeline that helps safety-net providers care for underserved patients across the country.
Congress designed the 340B program nearly 30 years ago to help safety-net providers stretch scarce resources. It requires drug companies to provide lower-cost medications to hospitals and clinics that serve high numbers of low-income patients.
And it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
Big Pharma frowns on 340B because it loathes giving up a penny of almighty profit. The greedy industry has spent the last decade trying to destroy the program in Congress to no avail. 340B has strong bi-partisan support because nearly every member of Congress has a 340B hospital or clinic in their district. Nobody likes voting against a local healthcare provider — which is often the largest employer.
Instead, drug companies like Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis are undermining the program by refusing discounts to health providers that use community pharmacies. These arrangements are common and essential to getting medications nearer to the patients that need them.
The moves are illegal and lawsuits have already been filed against the Health and Human Services Department to stop the drug companies. More suits are expected.
The incoming Biden administration and the next Secretary of HHS must decisively stop drug companies from overcharging safety-net clinics and hospitals, nearly all of which use community pharmacies.
This simple step will provide necessary relief to the nation’s health care providers on the front lines of the pandemic at a time when they need it most.
And it will protect the 340B drug discount program for years to come.
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