Securing Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs

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Advocacy

Affordable Prescription Drugs

Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs

Federal policymakers have identified rising drug costs as a major national problem. They are holding hearings and analyzing data about prescription drug pricing and working to identify policy solutions to lower costs for American patients.

Hospitals are directly impacted by the major increases in prescription drug costs for inpatient and outpatient care. They also help patients deal with the financial burden of rising drug costs.

Recent reports on inpatient drug costs and trends in hospital drug spending and shortages address the impact on hospital budgets and operations, and patient access to care.

Key findings:

  • The average total drug spending per hospital patient admission increased 18.5 percent between fiscal years 2015 and 2017
  • More than 90 percent of surveyed hospitals reported having to identify alternative therapies to ease the burden of higher drug prices and drug shortages

HAP supports the American Hospital Association’s work to advance policy solutions that address ever-increasing drug prices. Those solutions include:

  • Stopping brand-name manufacturers’ anticompetitive actions/ passing the CREATES Act to allow generic drug manufacturers to take legal action if they face such actions
  • Speeding up generic drug approvals
  • Strengthening manufacturers’ drug shortage disclosure requirements
  • Developing drug shortage plans
  • Motivating drug companies to produce drugs in shortage/address delays
  • Encouraging early drug shortage alerts to lessen the risks to patients

HAP is working with the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation to convey the hospital community’s perspectives and priorities around rising drug costs and drug shortages.

The 340B Drug Pricing Program is an effective tool the hospital community has used to help manage the impact of high cost drugs through discounted medications from drug manufacturers. Savings are used to care for more patients, improve services and build healthier communities, or help patients secure prescription drugs at significantly reduced costs, or no cost at all.

340B Drug Pricing Program: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Safety Net

Created in 1992, the 340B Drug Pricing Program is essential to helping safety net providers stretch limited resources to better serve their patients and communities. The 340B program requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to sell outpatient drugs at discounted prices to health care organizations that care for large numbers of uninsured and low-income patients, serve rural communities, and offer vital services to cancer patients and children.

Particularly given the increasingly high cost of pharmaceuticals, the 340B program provides critical support to help hospitals care for vulnerable patients and build healthier communities. 340B hospitals receive discounted medications from pharmaceutical manufacturers and then are able reinvest those savings to reach more patients and provide more comprehensive services. Many hospitals that participate in the program use the savings to help patients by offering their prescription medications at significantly reduced costs, or no cost at all.

In addition to providing financial assistance to patients unable to afford their prescriptions, hospitals use the savings to:

  • Provide clinical pharmacy services, such as disease management programs or medication therapy management
  • Fund other medical services, such as obstetrics, diabetes education, oncology services and other ambulatory services
  • Establish additional outpatient clinics to improve access
  • Create new community outreach programs
  • Offer free vaccinations for vulnerable populations

Faced with heightened scrutiny and threats to payments for 340B hospitals, HAP is working to educate federal lawmakers about the value of the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and make the case against payment cuts targeted at hospitals participating in the 340B program. Scaling back the 340B program would only benefit drug companies, while both increasing the federal deficit and negatively impacting the patients and communities who benefit from this important program.

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