Legislative Fix Coming for Drug Discount Program


House Republicans say the federal 340B drug discount program has major problems and a legislative solution is one the way.

Pharmaceutical companies and congressional Republicans say the program has grown beyond its original intent of helping indigent patients with their drug costs. Congress didn’t clearly identify the intent of the program when it was created in 1992, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Jan. 9 during a call with reporters.

Walden’s press call was in advance of the Jan. 10 release of a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which provides recommendations for how the program could be improved. Walden is the chairman of that committee.

“Everyone has a different idea of what Congress meant with the language that created the program,” Walden said. “It’s time for Congress to do its job and step up and give definition, transparency, and accountability to the 340B program.”

Walden said his committee will be advancing legislation in the first few months of 2018 and it’s one of his top priorities. He said the legislation should clarify the intent of the program. He also said it should clearly define how covered entities should use the savings they receive from the program and establish uniform reporting requirements.

Meanwhile, the leading Democrat on the committee offered support for the 340B program.

The committee’s investigation “has shown the 340B program to be an essential source of cost savings for covered entities such as safety net hospitals, children’s hospitals, community health centers, and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Grantees,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in Jan. 10 statement. He noted that the 340B program has strong bipartisan support in Congress.

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