Drug manufacturer UCB says it is reviewing Monday’s letter from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration telling the company its restrictions on 340B pricing to covered entities that use contract pharmacies break federal law and must end immediately.
“At UCB, we support a competitive, value-based system that will improve access and affordability for all patients and enable access to UCB’s medicines for vulnerable and underserved populations, including those served by the 340B program,” the company told 340B Report Tuesday night.
UCB is one of 17 drug makers that impose conditions on 340B pricing when covered entities contract with outside pharmacies. It is the ninth to get a 340B program violation letter. HRSA has referred seven of the nine to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department Office of Inspector General for possible imposition of civil monetary penalties. OIG so far has penalized none, rousing the ire of covered entity groups and some in Congress.
Congressional 340B policy leader Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted Tuesday that he needs answers about drug company 340B violations and actions OIG may take.
“HHS found another Rx company in violation of 340B,” Grassley tweeted in social media shorthand. “I recently press HHS Inspector General 4 answers about 340B violations & actions IG may take[.] Hospitals & pharmacists tell me all time how important 340B is 2 health care access esp in rural IA[.] Need answers!” A few hours before sending that tweet, Grassley met with two dozen employees at Virginia Gay Hospital, a 340B critical access hospital in his home state. 340B was one of the issues raised, he tweeted.
Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, is highly respected by the various offices of inspector general due to his consistent support of the investigative agencies. He is also known as champion of whistleblowers who have accused industry of defrauding government agencies.