Big Pharma Hurts Maternal Health
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18 Sep Big Pharma Hurts Maternal Health

Giving birth in America is nearly twice as deadly as doing so in Europe. Big Pharma is partly responsible, choking the 340B Drug Discount Program that helps fund maternity wards and other services across the country.

The situation is particularly dire for African American mothers – 55 of 100,000 die in childbirth, according to the Government Accountability Office.  That’s 16 times higher than in Spain.

What’s going on? Underserved expectant mothers often show up with more health problems – particularly cardiac ailments – due to a lack of adequate primary healthcare. Providing care to the poor who can’t pay is the main mission of safety-net hospitals, and they depend, in part, on the 340B Drug Discount Program program to fund clinics and services.

Pharma is working overtime to starve the 340B Drug Discount Program by illegally denying discounts to thousands of hospitals. The loss amounts to billions of dollars annually, and it’s having a direct impact on the quality of care. These cuts, combined with low reimbursement rates from Medicaid, are forcing many hospitals to close maternity wards, making it even more difficult for women to access the health system when they need it most.

According to the research firm Chartis, 217 hospitals have closed their labor and delivery departments since 2017. More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age across 1,100 U.S. counties are living in maternity care deserts, says a recent report from the March of Dimes.

Attacking the 340B Drug Discount Program during an ongoing maternal care crisis is unconscionable. How many expectant mothers could die as a result of this immoral grab for cash? That doesn’t appear to bother the drug industry, which is driven by profits above all.

At least one safety-net facility is trying to buck the trend. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta is working to reopen its obstetrics department and plans to fund it, in part, through the 340B Drug Discount Program.

“These things generate revenue for our community and serve our community,” said CEO Kean Spellman.

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