7 healthcare groups urge HHS to enforce 340B drug-pricing rules

Seven national hospital and pharmacy groups sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Aug. 26 urging him to ensure drugmakers follow the rules laid out under the 340B drug-pricing program. 

Created in 1992, the 340B program requires drugmakers to offer discounts on all outpatient drugs to hospitals and clinics that serve indigent populations. About 2,500 hospitals around the country participate in the program. 

Since Late June, Merck, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Novartis and AstraZeneca have all told 340B hospitals that they may withhold 340B discounts for various reasons. 

AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly said they'd withhold the discounts for some or all of their drugs if they are dispensed by community-based pharmacies. Merck, Novartis and Sanofi have said they will withhold discounts if they don't receive claims data for all commercially insured, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D patients filling prescriptions in a 340B contract pharmacy.

"If left unaddressed, these actions will open the way for other drug manufacturers to deny discounts for other products," the groups wrote. The letter was signed by 340B Health, America’s Essential Hospitals, the American Hospital Association, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association and the Children’s Hospital Association. 

The groups say the moves by the drugmakers will result in significant harm to the millions of people who rely on healthcare providers  participating in the 340B program. They urged Mr. Azar to order drugmakers to comply with the law. 

"This is particularly critical now, as these hospitals need every resource available to care for their patients in vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 public health crisis," they wrote. 

Read the full letter here.

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