Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) this week cited ongoing 340B contract pharmacy litigation in cautioning against amending federal spending legislation to rebuke six drug manufacturers’ denials of 340B pricing when covered entities use contract pharmacies.

Key GOP Congressman Opposed 340B Amendment to Spending Bill During Committee Hearing

An influential Republican congressman on Monday cautioned against amending federal spending legislation to rebuke six drug manufacturers’ denials of 340B pricing when covered entities use contract pharmacies.

During a July 26 U.S. House Rules Committee hearing, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) cited the drug companies’ lawsuits challenging U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) findings that the firms’ contract pharmacy actions are unlawful in opposing Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and David McKinley’s (R-W.Va.) 340B-related amendment.

Burgess, a physician from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is a senior Republican member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the 340B program.

Until this session of Congress, Burgess was the ranking GOP member on the E&C Health Subcommittee. Burgess was term-limited from the ranking position. During his tenure as subcommittee chair, Burgess and other Republican lawmakers tried on several occasions to put restrictions on the 340B program, including on the contract pharmacy program. They were not successful in passing legislation through the committee, due to opposition from some of their fellow GOP lawmakers as well as strong opposition from Democratic committee members.

The full House approved Spanberger and McKinley’s amendment on Tuesday. The House yesterday paused work on the bill that now includes their amendment to work instead on three other spending bills.

According to Spanberger and McKinley, the amendment to the seven-bill fiscal year 2022 spending package “highlight[s] the need to protect the integrity of the 340B program by halting pharmaceutical manufacturers’ unlawful actions that have resulted in overcharges to 340B covered entities.” The amendment does not require HRSA or the six manufacturers to do anything. Entities hope it will increase pressure on HRSA to impose civil monetary penalties on the drug makers.

No House members spoke in opposition to Spanberger and McKinley’s amendment during floor debate on Tuesday. Burgess opposed it on Monday during Rules Committee action on the multi-purpose spending bill to which the amendment was attached.

The six manufacturers’ lawsuits against HRSA and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) “will be ongoing and I expect there will be some activity in the very near future,” Burgess said.

“Look, I understand,” he said. “I have a very big 340B hospital, not in my district but just outside my district, Parkland Hospital, where I did my residency. And I understand the concern that hospitals have surrounding the actions taken by manufacturers to limit utilization of contract pharmacies in the 340B program.”

“But in the midst of this litigation, we must not lose sight of the intent and the integrity of the entire 340B program,” Burgess continued. “Given this active litigation, Congress should allow the federal courts to resolve the issue, while taking steps toward meaningful reform. Any solution must address the lack of transparency in the program and the duplicate discounts and diversion in the program.”

On the other hand, groups representing 340B covered entities hailed Spanberger and McKinley’s amendment yesterday.

“Yesterday’s passage of the Spanberger-McKinley amendment, without opposition, brings congressional imprimatur to the notion that protecting the 340B program is widely viewed as bipartisan and non-controversial,” said Peggy Tighe, Principal at Powers Law and Legislative Counsel to Ryan White Clinics for 340B (RWC-340B). “340B detractors have spent years attempting to paint a very different picture about the program that distorted the incredible value 340B brings to safety net providers and the communities they serve.”

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) “appreciates the ongoing leadership by Reps. Spanberger and McKinley to shed light on the unlawful practices by drug companies,” said Joe Dunn, NACHC’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Research. “We hope this unanimous vote encourages HHS to continue their fight to protect contract pharmacies and hold manufacturers accountable.”

“We are enormously pleased by this bipartisan show of support for the 340B drug pricing program and the safety-net hospitals, health centers, and clinics that participate in it,” said 340B Health President and CEO Maureen Testoni.

Editor at Large | Website | + posts