Rural hospitals struggle to stock rare disease drugs blocked from 340B discounts

Rural hospitals often struggle to keep expensive rare disease drugs stocked and available for patients, since they must pay full price for the medications through the 340B Drug Discount Program, reports NPR.

The ACA added rural hospitals to the drug discount program in 2010. However, a last minute exclusion written into the legislature prevents rural hospitals from receiving discounts for rare disease drugs, according to the report. Rare disease drugs, also known as orphan drugs, are used to treat a disease affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans and often cost $100,000 a year or more.

The exclusion causes large disparities in medication costs between hospitals. Mountain View, Ark.-based Stone County Medical Center, a 25-bed rural hospital, pays $8,010 for a single dose of the clot-busting drug Activase. Batesville, Ark.-based White River Medical Center, a 235-bed regional hospital just 36 miles away, is eligible for a discount and pays about $1,600 per dose.

Rural hospitals nationwide have purposely left reorders unfilled for rare disease drugs and postponed patient treatments due to their high prices, according to the report.

To view the full NPR article, click here.

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