18 Jun Big Pharma’s Disgraceful Year
By 340B Matters
In July 2020, six huge drug companies fired the first salvo in a war against a federal program that helps safety-net healthcare providers care for the underserved. Their outrageous attack on the 340B Drug Discount Program has left hospitals and clinics without vital resources during a brutal global pandemic that has cost more than 600,000 American lives.
These “Shameful Six” manufacturers have refused to provide legally required discounted 340B pricing to eligible hospitals and clinics that use contracted pharmacies to better reach their patients. These pharmacies have been a central pillar of the program for more than a decade and are key to providing better care to uninsured and underinsured populations.
Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Novartis, AstraZeneca and United Therapeutics have engineered a crisis and face a growing legion of critics.
In the year since the companies began their war against the drug discount program, 1,100 hospitals signed a letter asking the former HHS Secretary to stop the Shameful Six from withholding discounts; 278 members of Congress have publicly decried these attacks on the 340B program; 29 state attorneys general and 20 national healthcare associations all went on the record in strong opposition to the assault.
If the manufacturers hoped to win public or regulator sympathy, they badly miscalculated. Recently, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a clear message to the Shameful Six in congressional testimony: “You violate the law, you pay the consequences.” That puts the companies firmly in illegal territory and opens them to costly civil monetary penalties.But the drug makers don’t care. They’d rather fight in court regardless of the cost to their reputations – and the negative impact on low-income patients across the country.
The errant manufacturers posted a staggering $20 billion in combined net profits in 2020. It’s a shocking amount considering a chunk of it came from illegally overcharging safety-net providers in the 340B program.
Meanwhile, other pharmaceutical titans like Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb have done the right thing and followed the law.
After a year of losing battle after battle, hasn’t the time come for this cabal to come to their senses and end their foolish and costly war?
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