340B grassroots group Community Voices for 340B (CV340B) has announced plans to hold its second annual Defend 340B March on Capitol Hill July 12.
A primary goal of the event is to raise awareness among lawmakers about 340B’s importance and to push for legislation that organizers believe is needed for the drug discount program’s survival.
“The purpose of the march is to engage 340B safety net providers and allies to defend the 340B drug pricing program, most importantly from the recent attacks on contract pharmacy arrangements,” Rhiannon Marshall Klein, CV340B’s national director of advocacy, told 340B Report.
“This year’s March is planned while Congress is in session, increasing the likelihood that we will be noticed by staffers and members of Congress coming in and out of Congressional office buildings, or even just looking out the window,” she said. “We want to stress to members of Congress how vital the 340B program is to our communities back home by being as visible as possible, bringing our message right out in front of their offices.”
She added, “this program is crucial to the future of this country’s public health system, so we need members to know, the time is now to defend 340B.”
Marshall Klein said she expects many participants in the July march to travel from out of state and predicted turnout would surpass the more than 100 supporters who took part in last year’s march. She said her group is currently working on speakers and sponsors for the march, with “several sponsorship commitments” to be announced in the coming weeks.
The march will occur at the conclusion of the 340B Coalition’s Annual Summer Conference which is scheduled to take place July 10-12 at National Harbor in suburban Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Transportation to and from the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor will be provided, as well as transportation to Washington Ronald Reagan International Airport from Capitol Hill immediately following the march, the notice said.
“We really need to call attention to the fact that 340B is a great program and it’s doing exactly what Congress intended all those years ago, and we can show better health outcomes because of it,” said Mark Malahosky, vice president of pharmacy services at Trillium Health, a western New York FQHC look-alike and Ryan White clinic. “The march is to just draw attention to the fact that we’re still here, we’re watching. Don’t hurt this program and frankly, help us strengthen the program to make sure it continues to provide better health outcomes for disparate populations.”
Malahosky said the fiercely debated issue of 340B providers’ use of contract pharmacies to dispense 340B-priced drugs would be a salient topic stressed at this year’s event, as it was during the 2022 march. So far, more than 20 drug manufacturers have imposed restrictions or conditions on the use of 340B discounts in the contract pharmacy setting.
“Clearly, the contract pharmacy issue is right now front and center because [340B providers] are losing their margins from these drug manufacturer restrictions,” Malahosky said. “There’s a significant loss of revenue.”
Malahosky said he would support legislation to clarify that 340B providers can use contract pharmacies. He said another issue of concern is language that was approved by the House Energy & Commerce Committee yesterday that would make it harder to obtain 340B revenue from Medicaid managed care pharmacy purchases. He said he doubted that the particular provision would go far in the Senate, but said it still underscores a troubling trend. “The general noise we’re hearing on 340B is concerning,” he said.
CV340B is a nonprofit, grassroots organization whose mission includes educating the public about the 340B program’s value and communicating the program’s successes to policy makers.
“The pharmaceutical industry continues to invest heavily in both a public relations and political advocacy campaign to scale back the size of the federal 340B drug pricing program,” the group said in a statement posted on its website. “Facing pressure from Congress, the Administration and industry stakeholders, the 340B program is at risk of unprecedented change unless support for the program can be broadened beyond the 340B provider groups that have traditionally served as the program’s champions.”