Congress to dis­cuss need for ad­di­tional 340B over­sight

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD -

Congress will be tak­ing a closer look this week at the fu­ture of a fed­eral pro­gram that helps hos­pi­tals pur­chase drugs at dis­counted rates.

Leg­is­la­tors are con­cerned about the growth in the 340B drug pric­ing pro­gram and won­der if it’s re­ceiv­ing ap­pro­pri­ate over­sight from HHS. The pro­gram was meant to be uti­lized only by hos­pi­tals serv­ing a large num­ber of low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als. How­ever, there have been re­ports that hos­pi­tals with more af­flu­ent pa­tients have been uti­liz­ing it as well. The U.S. Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice also has found that drug spend­ing was higher at hos­pi­tals that par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram ver­sus those that do not.

For ex­am­ple, 340B hos­pi­tals’ av­er­age spend­ing per ben­e­fi­ciary was $144 in 2012, com­pared to ap­prox­i­mately $60 at non-340B hos­pi­tals, ac­cord­ing to the GAO.

Over­re­liance or abuse of the pro­gram may be a rea­son that sales of drugs un­der 340B reached $16.2 bil­lion last year, a 34% jump from 2015 and ac­count­ing for 5% of the to­tal U.S. drug mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by Pem­broke Con­sult­ing.

To get to the bot­tom of things, the U.S. House En­ergy and Com­merce Sub­com­mit­tee on Over­sight and In­ves­ti­ga­tions will host a hear­ing Tues­day to de­ter­mine how over­sight of the pro­gram can be strength­ened. Of­fi­cials from HHS, its In­spec­tor Gen­eral Of­fice and the GAO will be wit­nesses.

“As the pro­gram con­tin­ues to ex­pand, our first pri­or­ity must be to ex­am­ine how this pro­gram is im­pact­ing pa­tients, providers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and other stake­hold­ers, and en­sure that we are pro­tect­ing pro­gram in­tegrity,” Rep. Tim Mur­phy (R-Pa.), chair­man of the sub­com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment.

Mean­while, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pears to be back­ing off of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that would scale back the pro­gram (See page 26). — Vir­gil Dick­son

Mur­phy

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