Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) on Sunday became the seventh drug manufacturer to deny 340B pricing on its products when hospitals contract with pharmacies to dispense the medicines, hospitals reported yesterday.
BI this morning confirmed that it has begun denying 340B pricing to hospitals on bill to/ship to orders involving contract pharmacies. BI told covered entities on June 31 that it would take the step on Aug. 1.
Some 340B hospital pharmacy executives and staff said yesterday that, depending on the wholesaler involved, BI National Drug Codes (NDCs) either have been removed from 340B contract pharmacy accounts, or the NDCs appear with wholesale acquisition cost pricing.
One hospital said the unit price of one BI product for shipment to a contract pharmacy rose from $0.28 to $478.00, a 170,614% increase.
Community health centers, HIV/AIDS clinics, and other federal grantee covered entities are exempt from BI’s new policy. It applies to all BI products except the company’s specialty drugs OFEV, Gilotrif, and Praxbind. BI will let hospitals without an in-house pharmacy designate a single contract pharmacy location to receive and dispense BI products. Hospitals will have to register with drug manufacturer vendor 340B ESP to make their contract pharmacy designation.
On May 17, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) sent letters to Astra Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and United Therapeutics stating that the companies’ restrictions on 340B pricing when entities use contract pharmacies have resulted in overcharges and violate the 340B statute. It said the companies must immediately resume offering such pricing and repay entities for overcharges. Failure to comply could results in imposition of civil monetary penalties, HRSA said.
All six companies are suing HRSA, and none has complied.
“We are continuing to engage Boehringer Ingelheim and will evaluate next steps as needed,” HRSA said yesterday.
Chris Marsh, BI Senior Vice President, Market Access, said this morning, “Boehringer Ingelheim is in communication with HRSA about the implementation of its policy.”
“Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to the 340B program and looks forward to working with all stakeholders now and in the future to ensure access to life-enhancing medicines for patients,” Marsh said.
Hospital groups last month slammed BI’s announcement.
“The decision of Boehringer Ingelheim, a multi-billion-dollar drug company, to violate the 340B law and withhold required discounts to many hospitals serving low-income and rural communities is appalling,” said 340B Health President and CEO Maureen Testoni.
“It’s another sad chapter in the pharmaceutical industry’s campaign to undermine the 340B program, and we will continue to fight these damaging and illegal policies,” said Beth Feldpush, senior vice president of policy and advocacy for America’s Essential Hospitals.