By John Hassell | National Director of Advocacy – AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Despite the drug industry’s best efforts, at a March 15, 2018 hearing on the 340B Drug Pricing Program in the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a majority of the senators who spoke made the case that the 340B program is working as intended and should be left alone. Drug makers’ greed was on full display as their representative was repeatedly pressed on their huge profit margins and the astronomic salaries of pharmaceutical executives—why would one of the most profitable industries in the world be fighting so hard to restrict a program that accounts for less than 2% of total drug sales while providing tremendous benefit to safety net providers?
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said it best, “If 340B didn’t exist, drug companies would have another $6 billion in their pockets, that’s less than one percent of global pharmaceutical sales revenue. The loss that they’re kicking and screaming about is a tiny fraction of the many billions they pull down every year in profits. … I believe we should spend some time focusing on the high cost of prescription drugs instead of chasing around wherever the drug companies want us to go…The drug companies are pulling out a Washington lobbying playbook. They’re shifting the blame on to someone else…. make sure no one focuses on the out of control drug costs these companies are charging.”
“Our work defending the 340B
program must continue because
the health care of so many
depend on it” – John Hassell
U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) asked Dr. Bruce Siegel, CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals, which represents public hospitals, “I want to get your thoughts, if the 340B program was restricted or rolled back in any way do you think manufacturers would reduce drug costs?” Siegel replied, “No.”
The chairman of the HELP committee, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) gave this opening statement and the ranking member of the committee, U.S. Patty Murray (D-Washington State) offered this opening statement.
The work of advocates and defenders of the 340B program was visible at the hearing, and the messages that the Ryan White Clinics for 340B Access Coalition have been sending to the U.S Congress came through loud and clear: the 340B program benefits patients and non-profit safety net providers; 340B costs taxpayers and government nothing; drug companies are trying to dismantle the program; and 340B should be left alone.
“Our work defending the 340B program must continue because the health care of so many depend on it,” said John Hassell, AHF’s national director of advocacy. He encouraged supporters of 340B to call their members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol’s switchboard at (202) 224-3121