We’ve been following the ongoing challenge pharmaceutical companies have brought against HRSA’s 2010 guidance. The 340B Program was created in 1992 for those that are uninsured and underserved to be able to access medication at a discounted rate. The guidance, modified under the Obama Administration in 2010, allows covered entities to provide 340B drugs to their patients through an unlimited amount of contract pharmacies.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are trying to prevent duplicate discounts and ensure the 340B patient is receiving the 340B discount by requesting additional data from the covered entities that are utilizing contract pharmacies.
Most hospitals do not have an in-house 340B pharmacy and are able to participate in the 340B Program and provide their patients discounted medication through contract pharmacies, as allowed through the 2010 HRSA guidance. This challenge that pharmaceutical manufacturers have initiated has outraged hospital groups, especially The American Hospital Association (AHA).
Since our last update, the article Hospitals urge HHS to step in on 340B fight with drug manufacturers has been modified. “Another group of hospitals sent a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar asking him to take action against the [pharmaceutical companies that are trying to limit] 340B drug distribution [on September 11, 2020]. ‘If the administration permits pharmaceutical companies to continue these practices, 340B hospitals will face increased difficulties serving high volumes of patients living with low incomes in rural and urban communities,’ more than 1,100 hospitals in 340B Health group wrote. The AHA released a report [that showed in 2017] 340B hospitals provided $64.3 billion in benefits to their surrounding communities, according to tax form data; an increase from $56.1 billion in 2016.” The AHA has also slammed Big Pharma over their efforts to limit access to 340B drugs to the patients that need them. “In separate letters to the companies” requesting additional information, “AHA said that it ‘is an outrage that this action is being taken at a time when hospitals are in the midst of their response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, which has further demonstrated the fractured, inadequate state of the prescription drug supply chain,’ and that the pharmaceutical companies’ actions are ‘attempting to compel hospitals to divert critical resources away from the pandemic.’”
Magdi Awad, MSA, Pharm. D., RPh from AxessPointe Community Health Centers wrote a Letter to the Editor concerning the problems this pharmaceutical block would bring to patients everywhere, especially those that are underserved and uninsured. The letter highlights some of the most concerning issues: access to 340B medication(s). Prescriptions are a part of practicing preventative health care, which leads a hand in quality measures. Distribution of medication works to prevent emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalizations. Those that receive medication(s) through the 340B Program are mostly underserved and uninsured patients – patients that cannot afford retail drug prices or to be hospitalized.
If you are interested in having an in-house 340B Pharmacy, there is no better time to join the program. HRSA is allowing covered entities to enroll in the program on a weekly basis.