As the industry “that generates higher profit margins than any other,” Big Pharma continues to price gouge consumers for life-saving drugs. One thing the pharmaceutical industry is not entitled to, however, is its own set of facts. A recent opinion piece in The Daily Caller, “Hollow Promises on Feds’ Drug Discount Program,” is a shameless and desperate attack on the truth by the big drug companies. The author of the piece – a former pharmaceutical industry lobbyist – now works for a member of AIR340B – the PhRMA-backed group dedicated to attacking the 340B drug discount program at every turn.
The author’s claims belie reality, which is that for over 25 years the 340B program has been critical in helping hospitals expand access to prescription drugs and comprehensive health care services to vulnerable patients and communities across the country. The program is funded through drug company discounts that do not cost the government or taxpayers.
A study released earlier this year showed that 340B hospitals provided more than $50 billion in total benefits to their communities in 2015 alone, the most recent year for which data is available. 340B is as important as ever given the skyrocketing prescription drug price increases that have presented hospitals and their patients with remarkable challenges. It is important to remember that drug companies are solely responsible for setting the list prices for drugs, as well as determining subsequent price increases.
In order to strengthen this critical program, the American Hospital Association recently launched a new initiative that will increase transparency and help 340B hospitals better communicate the immense value of the program for vulnerable patients and communities. We also continue to call on the pharmaceutical industry to provide the transparency, accuracy and accountability that Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services has found lacking in their drug pricing.
Scaling back the 340B program, as AIR340B advocates, would only benefit the drug industry and create devastating consequences for the patients and communities who rely on this vital program. This program must be protected so that hospitals can continue to provide quality care and services for communities serving the neediest patients.
By Tom Nickels, American Hospital Association Executive Vice President