01 Dec Big Pharma Presses Attack on Healthcare First Responders
By 340B Matters
America is in the grip of a massive pandemic surge. As healthcare first-responders struggle with the onslaught of sick patients, Big Pharma continues to undercut the resources of safety-net hospitals and clinics.
The situation is dire. As of December 1st there were 13.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases across the US. Huge hotspots have appeared in the Midwest and Southwest. The national curve is tipping precipitously upward and epidemiologists warn a very difficult winter lies ahead.
As the crisis unfolds, key drug companies continue to gouge healthcare providers, depriving them of much-needed funding as they race to save lives. The effort represents an orchestrated attack on the federal 340B Drug Discount Program that requires drug companies to supply lower-priced medications to hospitals and clinics that serve large numbers of low-income patients.
United Therapeutics recently joined Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis in refusing to provide discounted 340B pricing on their full product lines to certain hospitals and clinics that use contracted pharmacies to better reach their patients. Contract pharmacies have been a central pillar of the program for more than a decade and are key to providing better care to underserved populations.
Merck and Sanofi have also burdened safety-net providers with extra reporting in an effort to “pickpocket”– a term used to describe when manufacturers claw back rebates from pharmacy benefit managers, which in turn take back money from 340B hospitals and clinics. These savings are no longer available to be used to support the community.
The efforts to thwart the program are illegal and several suits have been filed to force the Department of Health and Human Services to stop the drug companies.
The core of the problem is drug manufacturer greed. Even in the midst of a resurgent national health crisis, the industry is working to kneecap safety-net providers to generate a few more grubby dollars for overpaid executives and shareholders. They hardly need the help. Large drug companies are nearly twice as profitable as those in other industries.
Now is the time for America to support its valiant healthcare first responders who risk their own lives daily to save ours.
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