Drug Maker Boehringer Joins Anti-340B Cabal | 340B Matters
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19 Jul Drug Maker Boehringer Joins Anti-340B Cabal

By 340B Matters

German drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim has unwisely joined an ignominious group of manufacturers attacking the 340B Drug Discount Program. The result will be even less resources for America’s overburdened healthcare safety net.

In late June, Boehringer informed 340B providers that it will stop offering discounted prices to pharmacies contracted to hospitals on August 1. The 340B law requires drug makers to offer 340B pricing to providers that treat high volumes of low-income patients.

No matter. Boehringer has thrown in with six other huge drug companies defying the law: Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Novartis, AstraZeneca and United Therapeutics. The company has made a couple of exceptions, most notably for Federally Qualified Health Clinics. But the 340B law does not recognize differences between providers in the program.

FQHCs do vitally important work treating the poor. However, safety-net hospitals care for many more underserved patients and are fully and equally deserving of the 340B discounts mandated by the law.

Boehrenger is making a dumb move. 

Does the company and its army of attorneys think they can bypass the constitutional process for passing a law and unilaterally amend the 340B statute to their liking?

Earlier this year, the Health Resources and Services Agency that runs the program issued a terse letter to the Shameful Six warning they were breaking the law: “HRSA has determined that [the manufacturers’] actions have resulted in overcharges and are in direct violation of the 340B statute.” That means potential civil monetary penalties of up to $5000 for each illegal fleecing.

In his testimony before a congressional committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra was more blunt about the companies attacking 340B: “You violate the law, you pay the consequences.”

Boehringer’s shareholders should take note.

The company’s executives have chosen a foolhardy course pursued only by industry outliers. The overwhelming majority of drug companies, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and Abbvie have chosen wisely not to defy the Biden administration and declare war on the 340B program.



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