July 30, 2015 – Curant Health President and CEO, Patrick Dunham, in MedCity News – In my role as CEO of one of the nation’s largest independent 340B specialty pharmacies, I found the past six months leading up to the 340B Coalition Summer 2015 Conference were much quieter than in the past. Is the healthcare industry getting tired of bashing the federally administered 340B drug pricing program or is it something more positive?
340B done right has significant, measurable, positive impacts that improve outcomes and lives for hundreds of thousands of uninsured and underinsured Americans suffering from HIV, hepatitis C and other difficult to treat, chronic illnesses.
The 2015 340B Coalition Summer Conference highlighted many of these instances and generated the first confirmation of pending new omnibus guidance for the program from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA – the federal administrative body for the 340B program) that I have heard from the organization directly. The following are the top 340B program insights I gained from three days in Washington, DC in early July.
- An appropriate spending level. Between 1.5 and 3 percent of all drug purchases made in America are made through 340B. In 2013, CMS estimated total U.S. prescription drug spending at $271 billion. For the same year, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission pegged 340B spending on prescription medications at $7 billion. I believe this to be an entirely reasonable proportion for the country and our pharmaceutical manufacturer partners to provide discounts to our uninsured and underinsured fellow Americans.
- Validated positive outcomes. 340B covered entities continue to do great things for patients validating the program’s value. Mary Elizabeth Marr, CEO of Thrive Alabama, a Ryan White grantee and 340B covered entity since 2001, discussed how savings from the 340B program have allowed Thrive Alabama to increase both the number of patients served and co-pay assistance provided. She also presented data demonstrating that viral load suppression among their HIV patients has improved by 25 percent (from 54.7 percent to 79.7 percent in the past six years for VL <= 48).
- Improved oversight and additional guidance coming soon. Michelle Herzog, deputy director of the Office of Pharmacy Affairs said that since 2012, HRSA has completed 363 onsite audits of 340B covered entities encompassing over 4,000 facilities and sub-grantees and 9,000 contract pharmacy locations. The 340B program is demonstrating much better oversight than it has ever had.
To read Patrick’s full article, visit MedCity News.
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