AHA to HHS: Stop drugmakers' 'abusive tactics' over 340B discounts

The American Hospital Association sent a second letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Sept. 8, urging him to stop drugmaker's "abusive tactics" to limit 340B discounts. 

The AHA said it was writing on behalf of its nearly 2,000 340B member hospitals to express concern about recent actions taken by several large drugmakers to limit the distribution of certain 340B drugs to hospitals. 

The association acknowledged that the Health Resources and Services Administration is already investigating the drugmakers' actions, but urged HHS to take "swift and decisive action" to halt the drugmakers' "pernicious tactics" and make sure other drugmakers don't follow suit.

Since late June, drugmakers have been telling hospitals they won't provide discounts on drugs under the 340B program for various reasons. The drugmakers argue they are trying to avoid duplicate discounts on drugs between Medicaid and the 340B program.

"However, even if these concerns are valid, there is no legitimate basis for these companies to limit the distribution of prescription drugs to 340B hospitals or demand superfluous paperwork," the AHA said. 

The AHA sent letters to five drugmakers Aug. 21 expressing its "profound concern" over their actions to limit 340B discounts. Since it sent that letter, several other drugmakers have adopted similar strategies to interfere with 340B discounts, AHA said in the Sept. 8 letter. 

The AHA also said contract pharmacies provide access to more affordable healthcare, particularly in rural areas. HRSA also said that expanding the use of contract pharmacies to improve access to 340B drugs for vulnerable communities served by the program was critical, particularly in rural America, as nearly half of all eligible 340B hospitals are in rural areas. 

"The drug companies are attempting to exploit for their financial benefit the current COVID-19 healthcare crisis," the AHA wrote. 

A group of 1,100 hospitals also sent a letter to Mr. Azar Sept. 10 urging him to take action. 

"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 our rural and urban communities," the letter states.

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