The brand drug industry’s recent full-page ad in The Washington Post saying the 340B program helps big hospitals and chain pharmacies but not patients is “hypocritical slander,” AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said last week.
“PhRMA calling for drug price fairness is like the tobacco industry promoting lung health,” Weinstein said in a July 21 AHF news release criticizing Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s July 19 ad.
Weinstein noted the ad ran “just as members of the U.S. Congress consider giving a modest amount of authority to Medicare to negotiate drug prices for a handful of drugs.”
“‘Distract and deny’ is one of the oldest political tricks in the book,” he said. “[The ad] is a desperate move, attacking front line nonprofit hospitals and clinics that use the savings from 340B to provide services to rural Americans and many vulnerable populations,” he said.
Congressional Democrats plan to pass the drug pricing legislation as part of a broader budget reconciliation bill that also addresses climate change. This type of bill requires only a simple majority to pass. Senate Democrats last night announced they overcame disagreements on climate change and taxation, clearing the way for a vote next week before the Aug. 8 Senate recess.
PhRMA’s ad is the latest sign that the 340B program might be facing the biggest assault to date by its critics, and AHF is preparing to fight back, AHF National Director of Advocacy John Hassell told 340B Report. “340B is our No 1 priority.”
“Something’s going on in the industry,” Hassell said. “The ad is a warning shot that the drug industry is not sitting still and is trying to restrict the 340B program. We’re gearing up for a potential challenge to 340B.” He called a series of recent “so-called studies about 340B,” largely industry-funded, another warning sign.
“Let It B” Campaign Gets Refresh
AHF last week refreshed let340b.org, part of its pro-340B ‘Let It B’ campaign launched in 2017. Hassell said AHF will promote the campaign during next week’s 340B Coalition summer conference in National Harbor, Md.
“We say the [340B] program’s working, leave it alone,” he said.
“For decades, 340B hospitals and some grantees participating in the program have fought tooth and nail to avoid being transparent about how revenue generated through the 340B program is used,” PhRMA spokesperson Nicole Longo said in response to a request for comment on AHF’s criticism. “That raises serious alarm bells when you consider biopharmaceutical companies provide tens of billions of dollars in discounts every year that get captured by the supply chain and fail to reach patients.”
“Policymakers should demand accountability and transparency from the hospitals and chain pharmacies that continue to abuse this program,” she said.