December 15, 2020 – SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and Nebraska on Monday Attorney General Doug Peterson leads a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general calling on the U.S. Department of Health (HHS) to hold drug manufacturers accountable for illegally refusing to provide discounts to state-qualified health centers, hospitals, and other providers that are vulnerable to patient populations 340B Drug Pricing Program. The 340B Drug Pricing Program offers discounts to insured healthcare facilities serving uninsured and low-income patients, helping these providers keep costs down even as prescription drug prices rise. In today’s letter to the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, attorneys general argue that drug makers Eli Lilly & Company, AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., United are withholding or threatening these critical discounts to withhold them Therapeutics Corp. and others put low-income patients at risk of losing access to affordable medicines as communities continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The 340B Drug Pricing Program has strong bipartisan support, and Congress has acted on multiple occasions to ensure that drug manufacturers continue to adhere to the programme’s mandates.
“As Americans grapple with COVID-19, it’s important that we protect access to affordable care.” said Attorney General Becerra. “Discounts offered under the 340B Drug Pricing Program are more important than ever. They ensure low-income and uninsured patients have access to affordable drugs when dealing with the significant impact of the pandemic. We urge HHS to hold these non-compliant drug manufacturers accountable and to immediately exonerate the health centers and the Americans they serve. “
To have their drugs covered by Medicaid and Medicare Part B, Congress urged drug makers to enter into Pharmaceutical Price Agreements (PPAs) with the HHS Secretary to limit the number of public hospitals, community health centers, and other patients in need for drug manufacturers Pay for medication. These PPAs require companies to offer vendors each covered drug “at or below the applicable maximum price”. Instead of fulfilling their obligations, Eli Lilly & Company, AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., United Therapeutics Corp. and others illegally refused to offer discounts, potentially withholding essential health care resources from Americans who depend on them when the country grapples with a public health crisis. Under the 340B Drug Pricing Program, HHS has the authority to correct violations of the program by drug manufacturers. For example, HHS may require manufacturers to reimburse Covered Health Centers and / or cancel manufacturers’ PPAs. While HHS recently published regulations establishing an administrative dispute settlement (ADR) process, which allows Covered Companies to file complaints and request relief, the ADR process is insufficient to address direct harm caused by drug manufacturers.
As of today’s filing, Attorney General Becerra was recognized by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Mexico , accompanies York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter to HHS can be found here.
Source: CA. DOJ