Boehringer Ingelheim latest drugmaker to limit 340B discounts

Boehringer Ingelheim has become the latest drugmaker to limit discounts to hospitals that use contract pharmacies to dispense 340B-discounted drugs. 

The German drugmaker sent a letter June 30 to 340B hospitals saying that it will stop giving 340B discounts to drugs dispensed through contract pharmacies as of Aug. 1. It joins Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, Sanofi, AstraZeneca and United Therapeutics in enacting such a policy. 

Boehringer Ingelheim did outline a few exceptions to its new policy, including that any hospital that doesn't have an in-house pharmacy capable of dispensing 340B drugs can designate a single contract pharmacy location to get the discounts, and that contract pharmacies that are wholly owned by a 340B hospital are still eligible for discounts. 

340B Health, a group that represents 340B hospitals, is urging the drugmaker to withdraw the policy, saying it will ask the Health Resources and Services Administration to take enforcement actions if it doesn't. 

"Boehringer Ingelheim's actions will deny patients with diabetes, asthma, COPD, and heart disease access to lifesaving treatments. In 2020, BI earned nearly $20 billion in revenue and more than $3 billion in profits for its drugs. Instead of harming the safety net, drug companies such as BI need to keep their focus on patients," Maureen Testoni, president and CEO of 340B Health, said in a statement shared with Becker's.

Diana Espinosa, acting HRSA administrator, sent letters May 17 to the six other drugmakers denying 340B discounts to contract pharmacies, saying they are in violation of the 340B statute and must begin offering their drugs at discounted prices to hospitals participating in the program. 

On June 21, HHS withdrew an advisory opinion it issued in December stating drugmakers must give 340B discounts to hospitals that use contract pharmacies. But HHS said the withdrawal "does not impact the ongoing efforts of the Health Resources and Services Administration to enforce the obligations that [the 340B statute] places on drug manufacturers, including HRSA’s May 17, 2021, violation letters concerning restrictions placed on contract pharmacy arrangements." 

Read Boehringer Ingelheim's full letter to 340B hospitals here

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