Community Health Centers are on the frontlines of the pandemic providing comprehensive care and helping prevent emergency rooms from becoming overwhelmed. Yet, recent actions by some drug companies threaten a federal drug discount program called 340B that is critical to health centers.
Health centers, primary care associations, and pharmacists joined a recent Twitter chat co-hosted by NACHC and the California Primary Care Association to explain the importance of the 340B program and sound the alarm over drug company actions that threaten the program. As Community Health Net of Erie, Pennsylvania, put it: “Health centers are a small part of 340B, but 340B is critical to health centers’ ability to care for their patients.”
What Is the 340B Program?
Established in 1992, the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program has long enjoyed support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle. The program gives health centers access to outpatient drugs at reduced prices, enabling them to ensure that all low-income patients have access to affordable prescription drugs.
Why 340B Is Essential to Health Centers
The 340B Drug Pricing Program is an important source of support for Community Health Centers, allowing them to stretch increasingly scarce federal resources and reinvest them in patient care.
Drug Company Actions that Weaken the 340B Program
In recent months, several drug companies have taken actions that threaten the 340B program. Some have stopped shipping discounted drugs to health centers’ contracted pharmacies. NACHC has filed suit against HHS to implement a long-delayed dispute resolution process that would allow health centers to act against drug companies violating the 340B statute. In the Twitter chat, health centers and pharmacists described the problems these actions are causing.
What Can We Do to Protect the 340B Program?
We suggest health centers fight back against the spread of misinformation by writing op-eds, letters to the editor, and by contacting Members of Congress to underscore why the 340B Program matters to patients and health centers. NACHC’s Health Care Advocacy Team has a toolkit with all the resources you need to get started: https://www.hcadvocacy.org/340b-advocacy/