Howard Brown Health Statement Regarding Recent Court Ruling against Community Health Centers
(Chicago, IL, February 9, 2023) – Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in favor of pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk regarding continued manufacturer attacks on community health centers and our contract pharmacies. We at Howard Brown Health are concerned that this decision may endanger healthcare access for vulnerable patient populations who rely on community health centers and discounted medications.
This disappointing court decision allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to continue to restrict access to affordable medications and erode a critical source of revenue that community health centers and other safety-net providers reinvest into offering vital care for low-income and marginalized patient populations. These health centers provide care to more than 30 million patients in the US, serving over a third of people living in poverty and a fifth of people living in rural areas. To ensure that these patients can continue to access the high-quality care that they need, we urge Congress to take action to protect the 340B Program.
As of writing, 21 drug manufacturers have enacted restrictions to reduce or eliminate access to 340B discounted drugs at contract pharmacies. Like many other federal health centers, Howard Brown uses a large network of contract pharmacies to ensure convenient access to affordable medication for our patients, no matter where they live. New restrictions imposed by drug manufacturers limit the availability of discounted medications to one or two pharmacy locations, which means that uninsured federal health center patients across the country could no longer access affordable medication at their local pharmacy. These restrictions are imposed with specific intent to increase pharmaceutical industry profits by drastically lowering the number of discounted medications that are made available to low-income and marginalized communities through safety net institutions.
“These restrictions allow pharmaceutical companies to keep 340B savings for themselves instead of ensuring access to affordable medication for patients and supporting vital safety net providers,” said David Ernesto Munar, HBH President and CEO. “Like all FQHCs, we reinvest every penny of our 340B savings into maintaining and expanding health and social service programs that our patients rely on. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are looking for ways to further increase their profit margins at the expense of vulnerable patients across the country.”
As courts deliberate on the issue, more and more drug manufacturers impose restrictions on contract pharmacy networks. The Third Circuit’s decision further emboldens manufacturers who have already imposed restrictions on contract pharmacy agreements and may encourage new manufacturers to join them. In order to prevent further attacks on the 340B Program that jeopardize the health and wellbeing of our nation’s most vulnerable and underserved populations, Congress must take action to protect the program against Big Pharma. And in doing so, 340B-covered entities must be involved in crafting solutions that will prevent further attacks and ensure that the program can effectively serve its purpose of supporting safety net providers and our patients.
Wren O’Kelley, Associate Director of Communications and Marketing