Big Pharma Must End Campaign Against America’s Safety-Net Providers | 340B Matters
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14 Apr Big Pharma Must End Campaign Against America’s Safety-Net Providers

By 340B Matters

The high-water mark of COVID-19 is now washing across America as safety-net health facilities and their dedicated doctors and nurses heroically battle the pandemic.

Winona Health in Winona, Minn., is a rural hospital on life support as it treats COVID-19 patients with a budget drastically reduced by cancellations of elective surgery and other services. Even with staff salary cuts, the hospital’s financial prognosis is now grim.

“These are the kinds of things that can really destabilize the entire rural infrastructure, and the long-term implications for this are pretty massive,” Winona Health CEO Rachelle Schultz told the Winona Daily News. Equally troubling, 354 rural hospitals faced the same situation even before the pandemic, according to a new study.

Winona Health is one of many hospitals benefiting from the 340B Drug Discount Program. This program costs taxpayers nothing and requires pharmaceutical companies to provide discounted medicines to safety-net hospitals and clinics treating high numbers of indigent patients. It’s one of the few financial bright spots for the hospital and is essential to keeping it in operation.

Across America, 340B health care providers are tirelessly treating victims of the coronavirus pandemic – from Montefiore Medical Center in New York to the Trouro Infirmary in New Orleans to St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco. They deserve our praise and support for putting their lives on the line daily to save Americans with COVID-19.

Instead of doing more to support America’s health care first responders, the drug industry is trying to permanently cripple the 340B program. It wants Congress to siphon desperately-needed funds away from non-profit safety-net providers and dump them into the pockets of drug manufacturers already raking in excessive profits. For proof of that greed, check out this study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Behind these shameful efforts is the drug industry trade association PhRMA. It enjoys revenues of nearly half a billion dollars a year, according to tax documents.

Despite out-sized profits and hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal for consultants, PR people and lobbyists, companies like Eli Lilly, Genentech Baxter Healthcare, Horizon Therapeutics and Janssen continue to support efforts to terminate the 340B drug discounts vital to the hospitals on the front lines of America’s battle against the novel coronavirus.

This is the moment of truth for Big Pharma. While it has spent a fortune in an attempt to further enrich itself at the expense of our nation’s safety-net healthcare providers, the industry is now at a crossroads and must answer these questions:  Are lives more important than profits? Are the valiant doctors and nurses fighting to save our family members deserving of your support, or will you continue your attempts at a cash grab by eliminating a critical source of funding for them?

It’s time for Big Pharma to end its campaign against the 340B drug discount program and the health care providers it supports.

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