Drug manufacturers’ decisions to impose conditions on 340B pricing when covered entities use contract pharmacies “need to be addressed moving forward,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said last week during an Energy & Commerce (E&C) health subcommittee hearing last week. The E&C Committee has jurisdiction over the 340B program.
The June 29 hearing was on 11 healthcare bills, none related to the 340B program. Dingell asked a witness—Desiree Sweeney, CEO of NEW Health, a health center in rural northeast Washington state—about the 340B program’s impact on underserved communities.
“The 340B program is incredibly important to health centers across the country,” Sweeney answered. “By law and mission we must reinvest all savings of the 340B program back into the patient care.” She said 340B savings were “essential” in enabling NEW Health “to do right by patients” when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out.
After Sweeney’s remark, Dingell said, “One thing that’s important to note is that a number of major prescription drug manufacturers have arbitrarily decided to restrict their participation in the 340B program since the summer of 2020.”
“It’s an issue I’m hearing about from my constituents who receive health care through the community health care centers which have faced cutbacks and services as a result of the pharmaceutical companies overcharging,” Dingell said. “These very critical safety net providers have a real impact on access to care and pharma’s actions here need to be addressed moving forward.”
Dingell’s late husband, John, who died in 2015, was the longest serving member of Congress and a longtime E&C Committee chair and ranking member.