Additional pharmaceutical manufacturers – such as Novo Nordish – are following the movement of other pharmaceutical manufacturers – like Eli Lilly and Company – and are making it a challenge for covered entities to utilize multiple contract pharmacies to provide the underserved and uninsured medications at an affordable rate. 29 bipartisan state attorney generals sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting him ‘to address drug manufacturers’ unlawful refusal to provide critical drug discounts to covered entities, such as community health centers, under the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Azar has since resigned from his position and the Biden Administration’s HHS Secretary has stepped into the role. The AHA is grateful to the attorney generals for standing up for the program that taxpayers do not pay for and strengthens the health care safety net.
The AHA asked the Biden Administration to protect the 340B Program in its first 100 days. Prior to Biden becoming the acting president, “the AHA sent [him] a list of priority recommendations to implement with ending the pandemic as number one.
Florida’s state Medicaid director wrote a letter to Eli Lilly and Co asking the manufacturer “to suspend its restrictions on the 340B [drugs] shipped to [contract pharmacies for the patients of the various] covered entities. [There is] some [speculation] that Florida Medicaid might have signaled it may use its Medicaid preferred drug list as leverage over [the drug manufacturers] that [are] denying 340B pricing for contract pharmacy drugs.
“The New York Times, one of the country’s most highly regarded news organizations, [ran] an article about ‘top pharmaceutical companies that have stopped giving federally mandated drug discounts to hospitals and clinics that care for the poorest Americans,’ and the bipartisan pressure building on Azar ‘to demand reinstatement of the price breaks or punish the firms.’” According to the Times’ article, “drug companies say that ‘some hospitals and clinics were exploiting [the program] to [pay] their own bottom lines, and that individual patients are not being hurt’ by their 340B pricing denials. Drug makers [are saying that the program] has grown larger than originally intended, costing billions of dollars each year in part because of the decision” and work the Obama Administration and HRSA did together to open the cap on the number of contract pharmacies covered entities can utilize to distribute 340B medications to their patient base, increasing pharmaceutical services to the underserved and uninsured.
We’ll keep you updated as this issue continues to develop.
Interested in joining the 340B Program? Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is allowing covered entities to enroll in the 340B Program on a weekly basis.