Big Pharma’s illegal 340B discount cuts to hospitals and clinics that contract with local pharmacies is having a profoundly negative effect on America’s healthcare safety net. Over the past two years, manufacturers have stolen more than $6 billion that should have gone to helping providers care for uninsured and underinsured patients.
Many of the hospitals that provide discounted drugs to low-income patients through community and specialty pharmacies report drug company restrictions are leading to patient care problems, including delayed access to medicines, financial hardships from higher bills and worsened health outcomes. Rural hospitals are particularly hard hit as they struggle with longstanding budget shortfalls. Nearly 150 have closed since 2010, and many more are expected to shut their doors in the near future.
All this is happening against a backdrop of soaring Big Pharma revenues. For example, Merck posted 2022 year-end revenues of $59 billion, up 22 percent. Novo Nordisk was up 26 percent on revenues of $25 billion and AstraZeneca posted revenues of $44 billion, up 25 percent. Many manufacturers have explicitly told investors that the cuts are driving higher profits.
There’s something seriously wrong with this picture.