Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ran a full-page advertisement in the A section of The Washington Post this morning blasting 340B hospitals and drug store chains. According to a PhRMA spokesperson, it is part of a new ad campaign by the powerful trade group.
PhRMA’s board of directors reportedly is meeting this week at the association’s Washington headquarters, located roughly midway between the White House and Capitol Hill. The agenda could include a discussion of 340B.
The Post is required reading for all in Washington involved in politics and public policy. Although the print edition has been eclipsed by the Post’s electronic versions, PhRMA’s ad on page A5 is sure to grab attention.
“340B is helping
patients BIG hospitals & chain pharmacies,” the ad says, with the word patients crossed out. “Does that seem fair to patients?”
“Far too often, discussions about the 340B program leave out who should be the most important stakeholder—patients,” a PhRMA spokesperson said this morning. “PhRMA’s new ad campaign aims to call attention to the fact that there is little to no evidence patients benefit from the 340B program, despite what Congress intended when the program was created. This isn’t fair to patients, and we stand ready to work with policymakers to get the 340B program back on track.”
The ad includes a link to the PhRMA website’s 340B page, which the association updated recently. The page lists these principles for “meaningful” 340B improvement:
- “Putting patients first: Many patients never see the benefits of 340B because hospitals and pharmacies keep the profits for themselves. There is even evidence that 340B is driving up costs for patients. Patients must come first—and must more directly benefit from the discounts provided by manufacturers.”
- “Clearly defining who benefits: There has been evidence over the years of covered entities abusing the lax definition of a 340B patient to increase their profits by seeking discounts on medicines that were not provided to true 340B patients. By more clearly defining who is a 340B patient and ensuring vulnerable patients benefit, the program can more effectively help people in need and make it harder for participating hospitals and pharmacies to use it for their own financial gain.”
- “More transparency: There are no requirements for how participating hospitals and pharmacies must use their 340B discounts to help patients and no way to know whether patients benefit from 340B. The program needs common-sense transparency reporting requirements that hold hospitals and pharmacies accountable and ensure patients are seeing the benefits.”
- “Oversight and integrity: Lack of oversight in the 340B program has allowed for thousands of instances of noncompliance by hospitals and pharmacies and opened the door for ineligible entities to take advantage of the program’s financial benefits. The 340B program needs more oversight and tighter rules to prevent abuse.”
- “Revisiting role of contract pharmacies: For-profit chains like CVS and Walgreens have flooded the 340B program, enabling large hospitals to increase their revenue despite no mention of contract pharmacies in the 340B statute. Uninsured patients often pay full price for medications at contract pharmacies, even though hospitals receive those medicines at a steep discount. And these pharmacies are often not located in vulnerable communities 340B is meant to serve.”