Drug dis­count sup­port­ers to strate­gize on 340B pro­gram

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Steven Ross John­son

Safety net providers and clin­ics that par­tic­i­pate in the 340B Drug Pric­ing Pro­gram will meet next month to ad­dress crit­i­cism that some 340B par­tic­i­pants are abus­ing the dis­count pro­gram.

Drug­mak­ers and some law­mak­ers have called for tougher over­sight be­cause some hos­pi­tals are re­ceiv­ing dis­counted drug ben­e­fits de­spite serv­ing a small num­ber of low-in­come pa­tients.

The pro­gram re­quires drug­mak­ers to dis­count out­pa­tient med­i­ca­tions by as much as 50% at hos­pi­tals and clin­ics that serve large num­bers of low-in­come and unin­sured pa­tients. The Af­ford­able Care Act al­lowed more hos­pi­tals to be­come el­i­gi­ble for the pro­gram, and the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants has grown sharply. Providers say the ex­pan­sion has helped them treat low-in­come pa­tients as drug prices have climbed.

But an anal­y­sis by Avalere Health found that roughly two-thirds of hos­pi­tals par­tic­i­pat­ing in 340B pro­vide less char­ity care than the av­er­age U.S. hos­pi­tal, with char­ity care mak­ing up 1% or less of many par­tic­i­pat­ing fa­cil­i­ties’ spend­ing. An anal­y­sis con­ducted by the Berke­ley Re­search Group found that drug pur­chases made at the 340B price rose from $1.1 bil­lion in 1997 to more than $7 bil­lion in 2013; such pur­chases are pro­jected to reach more than $16 bil­lion by 2020.

In March, mem­bers of the House Energy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee dis­cussed the ef­fec­tive­ness of the pro­gram.

The up­com­ing 340B con­fer­ence, sched­uled for July 13-15 in Washington, will fo­cus on a new Health Re­sources and Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion guid­ance on the 340B pro­gram that is in­tended to clar­ify el­i­gi­bil­ity and other is­sues.

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