HHS delays 340B drug program regulations: 4 things to know

HHS on Thursday delayed a regulation preventing drug companies from overcharging hospitals under the 340B drug discount program.

Here are four things to know.

1. The 340B drug pricing program, enacted in 1992, ensures hospitals treating a large proportion of low-income patients can buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount of 20 to 50 percent, according to the report. About one-third of U.S. hospitals — or 2,000 — participate in the program, purchasing about $12 billion in discounted drugs in 2015, reports The Washington Post.

2. In 2010, Congress instructed HHS to implement program regulations to set price ceilings for drugs and establish civil monetary penalties on manufacturers that "knowingly and intentionally overcharge 340B covered entities," according to a statement from HHS. The agency in January issued a final rule for the regulations to take effect March 6.

3. After President Donald Trump initiated a hiring freeze on all federal agencies in early March, HHS pushed back the rule until May 22. The agency also requested comments over a proposal to further delay implementation of the regulations until October. After reviewing the comments, HHS decided to officially push back the regulations to take effect Oct. 1.

4. 340B Health, a lobby group representing hospitals and health systems in the 340B program, shared an emailed statement with Becker's, saying it was "disappointed with HHS' decision to further delay … a long-overdue regulation to police the pharmaceutical industry."  

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