Correcting the record: Biopharmaceutical companies remain committed to the 340B program and helping patients

The New York Times recently ran a story that paints an inaccurate picture of the 340B program, contract pharmacy participation in the program and the biopharmaceutical industry’s commitment to the program. Today, we’re correcting the record.

Fact: Manufacturers are still giving the 340B discounts, as required by law, to “covered entities” – more than 12,700 hospitals and clinics currently participating in the 340B program. Some companies have recently implemented changes to shipment of 340B drugs in response to decades of program failures, which is being mischaracterized by some. These companies are still providing discounts to 340B covered entities, but in some cases not to offsite pharmacies that were never included in the program to begin with when Congress created 340B.

Key takeaways from new GAO report on covered entities’ lack of compliance with 340B requirements

In case you missed it, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report looking at the 340B program and the mechanisms the government has to help ensure compliance with the program’s requirements. This is the latest in series of reports from the government watchdog that has raised concerns with 340B program integrity. Earlier this year, for example, GAO found it is likely that there are nongovernmental hospitals participating in 340B that are not eligible for the program but have taken advantage of the lax oversight of 340B so they can reap the financial benefits of it

340B hospitals and for-profit pharmacies generating significant revenue from program meant to help needy patients

The 340B program – a safety-net federal drug program meant to help vulnerable Americans – has become dominated by many large hospitals and for-profit corporations with no clear evidence they are always helping needy patients. At a time when too many Americans struggle to access the medicines and care they need, it is alarming to see 340B being taken so far off course from what Congress intended as the program’s goal.

Growth in 340B program has not translated to improvements for patients

Is 340B benefiting the vulnerable, uninsured patients it was designed to help? That’s the most important question policymakers should be asking in any discussion about the 340B program. Unfortunately, this program is essentially a black box with lax reporting requirements and weak oversight – which means there is little to no clear evidence that patients consistently benefit from the massive discounts on medicines provided to 340B covered entities.