HHS 'misses the mark' in drug shortage proposal, ASHP says

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists partly welcomed HHS' 18-page policy recommendations for drug shortage strategies, but the organization said it "proposes concerning penalties."

On April 2, HHS recommended Congress create programs that assess and rank drug manufacturers based on their reliability. Hospitals would then be rewarded or penalized depending on their purchasing habits from diverse, reliable suppliers. 

Based on a company's scorecard, CMS could hand incentives or penalties to drugmakers, hospitals and middlemen. HHS said the current pharmaceutical industry prioritizes low costs, but some experts argue cheap generics deter pharmaceutical companies from protecting generic manufacturing lines, such as having resiliency plans. 

In an April 3 statement, the ASHP said it was satisfied to see many of its recommendations included in the proposal, but it "misses the mark by suggesting penalties against hospitals that do not adopt HHS-required inventory and purchasing practices."

"We are deeply concerned that HHS proposes to impose financial penalties on hospitals that may be least able to take steps, such as investing in buffer inventories, to prevent shortages," the ASHP said, adding that hospitals with limited resources could be at a disadvantage. The HHS proposal said a hospital's size and purchasing power should be factored into scorecard ratings.

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