Belgian-based pharmaceutical manufacturer UCB this morning became the ninth drug company to impose limits on 340B pricing involving contract pharmacies.
Hospitals reported getting letters and an FAQ from UCB today by email announcing that, effective Dec. 13 and with respect to hospitals only, it “will provide products purchased at the 340B discounted price only to locations registered as a 340B covered entity or child site location. Pharmacies registered as a contract pharmacy will no longer be provided Bill To / Ship To replenishment orders.”
UCB, which focuses on immunology and neurology products, said it will continue to provide 340B pricing to federal grantee covered entities that use multiple contract pharmacies.
Hospital covered entities without an in-house pharmacy can designate a single contract pharmacy, using manufacturer contractor 340B ESP’s platform, UCB said. Contract pharmacies wholly-owned by hospitals or under common ownership with a health system “will continue to be provided ‘Bill To / Ship To’ replenishment orders of 340B priced drugs,” the company said. “These pharmacies must be registered with HRSA as a contract pharmacy of their related 340B covered entity hospitals.”
“In support of a smooth transition to our new policy, 340B covered entities should work with their contract pharmacy administrators and wholesalers to process any outstanding Bill To / Ship To replenishment orders in advance of the December 13th, 2021 effective date,” UCB’s letter says. “340B contracts administered by our wholesalers will no longer support
provision of drugs purchased at the 340B discount price to contract pharmacies after December 13th, 2021.”
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) said this morning, “We are reviewing UCB’s policy and will evaluate next steps as needed.”
HRSA also this morning pointed to its statement (see related story) saying it was pleased with two federal judges’ recent findings that manufacturers Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi’s denials of 340B pricing involving contract pharmacy are unlawful. HRSA in the statement also said it respectfully disagrees with “and continues to evaluate its options” about another federal judge’s finding that Novartis and United Therapeutics’ 340B contract pharmacy pricing denials are lawful.
UCB said in a statement, “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 said it was exempting grantee covered entities from its new policy “in light of these grantees’ unique role in supporting access for underserved and vulnerable populations.”
“We believe covered entities and their patients—not large, for-profit contract pharmacies—should receive the benefit of discounted medicines prescribed through the 340B program,” UCB said.
Hospital group 340B Health said UCB’s new policy is “unconscionable.”
“The federal government has launched enforcement actions against seven drug companies that are breaking the law with these pricing restrictions,” 340B Health President and CEO Maureen Testoni said. “Two federal courts have ruled that drugmakers cannot refuse to offer statutory discounts or impose unilateral conditions on those discounts. Yet UCB is ignoring all these clear mandates by imposing an unlawful policy that will serve only to hurt patients at safety-net hospitals and boost the company’s revenues.”
“We continue to urge the federal government to pursue enforcement actions against any companies that are in violation of the 340B law and to continue fighting in the courts to defend its authority to do so,” Testoni said. “This harmful drug company behavior must stop.”