July 10—Safety net hospitals say opportunities exist to modernize the 20-year-old 340B drug discount program, and they offer a number of recommendations for improvement, including greater pricing transparency and a review of the contract pharmacy program. 

A report released by the Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access (SNHPA) calls for a number of reforms to modernize the 340B program, a program under which certain hospitals may obtain significant discounts on drugs furnished to outpatients. Recommendations include the following:

  • Increased pricing transparency to ensure that healthcare providers are not being overcharged
  • Selective audits of manufacturers and wholesalers to ensure the integrity of the drug discount program 
  • A review of the use of contract pharmacies to determine whether the 340B program is helping vulnerable patients better access prescription medications and pharmacy care
  • Modernization of patient definition guidelines developed in 1996, which the SNHPA believes do not fit the modern practice of medicine and pharmacy
  • The development of a system that would enable the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to verify the accuracy of ceiling prices calculated by manufacturers 
  • The establishment of procedures for manufacturers to issue refunds to covered entities in the event of overcharging 
  • The establishment of a single, universal, and standardized identification system by which each covered entity site can be identified by manufacturers, distributors, covered entities, and HHS for purposes of facilitating the ordering, purchasing, and delivery of covered outpatient drugs

Publication Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013