340B Health always does a great job bringing together key healthcare stakeholder voices at the annual 340B summer conference. This event provides a terrific forum for education, discussion and insight into what's working well with the program and where there are opportunities for improvement.
This year it seemed the overall industry discussion around the program had grown quiet. Is it possible the industry has gotten tired of bashing the federally administered 340B drug pricing program, or could the silence be evidence of something even more positive?
340B done right has significant, measurable, positive impacts that improve outcomes and lives for hundreds of thousands of uninsured and under-insured Americans suffering from HIV, hepatitis C and other difficult to treat, chronic illnesses.
Once again, this year's conference provided a wealth of new learnings on how this program is working well and delivering the results the program architects intended. Below is a summary of key conference takeaways:
1. The program appears to be funded at an appropriate level
Between 1.5% and 3% of all drug purchases made in America, or approximately $7 billion out of a total of $271 billion in prescription drug spend in 2013, are made through the 340B program. This is an entirely reasonable proportion for the country and our manufacturer partners to provide in discounts to uninsured and under-insured Americans.
2. Wise spending drives positive outcomes
Savings from the 340B program allows clinics to invest money into other necessary healthcare facets, including patient education, which in turn results in additional adherence and healthier patients. 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 while improving viral load suppression by 25%.
3. All healthcare stakeholders want improved oversight and additional program guidance
A total of 363 audits of 340B covered entities have been completed since 2012, proof that there is widespread recognition of the need to ensure the program is being implemented as intended. That said, it was announced that HRSA plans to issue omnibus guidance that touches all aspects of the 340B program later this year.
4. Pharma manufacturers are on board with the majority of grantees
Pharma manufacturers haven't held back in previous criticism of the program and their concern that covered entities are operating within the boundaries of the program. However, the majority of the pharma reps we spoke to at the conference see the benefits and the value for primary care that 340B provides, including Ryan White clinics acting as primary care providers. When patients know their physicians and maintain long-term, trusting relationships with them, the program works efficiently, as intended, and with resounding support of the pharmaceutical manufacturers whose discounts on life-changing medication therapies provide savings to covered entities.
Be sure to check out our recent article in MedCity News for more detail on these insights from the conference.
We would be happy to share our experience in building successful 340B partnerships across the country. If you'd like to talk, contact Amber Keith, our Director of 340B Partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.