HHS general counsel scolds Eli Lilly for halting 340B drug discounts

HHS General Counsel Robert Charrow scolded Eli Lilly in a Sept. 21 letter for its recent actions to halt 340B discounts to hospitals. 

In the letter, Mr. Charrow scolded Eli Lilly for seeking to impose deadlines on which its 340B discounts would be reduced if the Human Resources and Services Administration didn't respond to its actions, and for maintaining that its correspondence with HRSA were trade secrets. The drugmaker cannot impose such deadlines on the government's deliberations, he said. 

"Lilly cannot and should not view the absence of any questions from the government as somehow endorsing Lilly's policy especially when this Department is leading the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Mr. Charrow wrote. 

He also said that the timing of the policy change regarding 340B discounts is "at the very least, insensitive to the recent state of the economy."

Eli Lilly's stock has increased by more than 11 percent since January, but at the same time, many hospitals and clinics in the 340B program are struggling financially and require federal assistance, Mr. Charrow said. 

He wrote that Eli Lilly could face a potential False Claims Act lawsuit if it knowingly violates a material condition of the 340B program that results in over-charges. 

Read the full letter here.

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