340B legislation advances in U.S. House

Key legislation providing greater transparency and oversight into the 340B federal drug program moved forward in the U.S. House on May 25.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee marked up 19 bills, including H.R. 3290, To amend Title III of the Public Health Service Act to ensure transparency and oversight of the 340B drug discount program. Sponsored by Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), the bill passed the committee by a bipartisan vote of 29-22.

During the Health Subcommittee markup the previous week, Rep. Bucshon cited the rapid growth of the 340B program as a reason for passing the bill, noting it can be a “lucrative” business. As Bio.News has reported extensively, the program was intended to provide discounted drugs to underserved communities at deep discounts. However, the program has become bloated and allows well-funded hospitals to reap large profits from the sale of these drugs.

340B and ‘questionable use of taxpayer dollars’

The 340B legislation received bipartisan support, including from Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA).

“The 340 B drug discount program, which helps provide life-saving drugs to low-income patients in my district and across the country, is the second-largest government prescription drug program,” began Rep. Peters.

“I’m a strong supporter of 340B. But we have seen some practices highlighted over the past year by the New York Times in the Wall Street Journal and other outlets that provide – and should provide – sincere concern on behalf of this committee, which was responsible for the creation, the implementation, and oversight of this important program. And I’m particularly worried about the evidence we’ve seen that some large systems may use 34B to reach affluent areas, diverting care away from underserved communities. And that practice violates the spirit of the program,” continued Rep. Peters.

“Unfortunately, in some well-documented instances, this has contributed to questionable use of taxpayer dollars and the deaths of some patients. We need to do more,” said Rep. Peters. “And I know that we can come together as Republicans and Democrats to work on some thoughtful reforms, but we can’t do that if we’re in the dark about where the money is…We all claim that this is this program works. I would challenge us to prove that if we don’t have the information about where the money’s going, who the beneficiaries are.”

“We have every right and responsibility to know where the money’s going. And I think that that’s what this bill is about. So, I urge my colleagues to join and vote for this transparency,” concluded Rep. Peters.

Ways & Means advanced additional bills

In addition to the 340B legislation, the House Ways and Means Committee advanced additional bills on May 23. They included:

The Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2023 (H.R. 1418). Reps. Greg Pence (R-IN) and Kim Schrier (D-WA) sponsored the bill. It would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to reauthorize user fee programs relating to new animal drugs and generic new animal drugs.

The PATIENT Act (H.R. 3561), a.k.a. the Promoting Access to Treatments and Increasing Extremely Needed Transparency (PATIENT) Act of 2023. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) sponsored the bill. The PATIENT Act would provide greater transparency and oversight of pharmacy benefit managers and ban spread pricing in Medicaid.

The Medicaid VBPs for Patients (MVP) Act (H.R. 2666). The bill would codify value-based purchasing arrangements under the Medicaid program and reforms related to price reporting under such arrangements. The bill also had bipartisan support. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) noted the bill strengthens access to care, including cell and gene therapies, while Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) said it provides access to “the most innovative cures for Medicaid patients with uncurable conditions.”

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