Multiple large drug manufacturers have refused to provide required drug discounts to healthcare providers that serve vulnerable patient populations, including low-income and uninsured Americans, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today joined a bipartisan coalition of 29 state attorneys general urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold drug manufacturers accountable for unlawfully refusing to provide discounts to federally qualified health centers, hospitals, and other providers that serve vulnerable patient populations through the federal government’s 340B Drug Pricing Program.
The 340B Drug Pricing Program provides discounts to covered healthcare entities that serve uninsured and low-income patients, and helps these providers keep costs low as prescription drug prices continue to rise. In today’s letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the attorneys general argue that by withholding or threatening to withhold these critical discounts, drug manufacturers Eli Lilly & Company, AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., United Therapeutics Corp., and others, put low-income patients at risk of losing access to affordable medications while communities continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is unconscionable that these companies would, during a global pandemic—for the sake of bigger profit margins—try to skirt federal requirements that ensure access to vital prescription drugs for our most vulnerable Americans,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
The 340B statute requires manufacturers that want to participate in Medicare Part B and Medicaid to enter into Pharmaceutical Pricing Agreements (PPA) with the HHS Secretary to limit the amount public hospitals, community health centers, and others serving indigent patients have to pay drug manufacturers for medications. Instead of complying with their obligations—which amount to a lifeline for indigent patients—these drug companies have unlawfully refused to provide discounts. HHS has the authority to address violations of the 340B Drug Pricing Program by drug manufacturers. This letter requests that they provide such relief, in addition to a new Alternative Dispute Resolution process that was established earlier this week.
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and serves as the state’s law firm.