October 28, 2015

AIDS Advocates Launched Campaign to Save Discount Drug program from PhRMA



                                                       

                                                                           




PhRMA Needs to make a few more billions and is taken the business approach of ‘if you can’t afford it you shouldn’t buy it’ even if it cost you your life. We are back to the past with advocates and HIV people going to the streets to protest the gutting of this program to improve the already sky high profits. They have promised a big return to their share holders and how are going to keep their word if they don’t raise the prices? What if it kill some people, people die everyday. That seems to be the business model of some drug manufacturers. 


AIDS advocates and others launched a campaign to save the 340B discount drug program from being gutted by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), according to a press release by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), one of the groups leading the charge.

Protesters took to the streets outside PhRMA headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 22, as PhRMA held a roundtable discussion about the 340B program. 

AHF also launched a public service announcement titled “I Count,” in which people who rely on the discount meds say, “Actual people count, not profits. Stop counting profits and start counting people.”

Congress created the 340B program in 1992. It requires drug manufacturers to provide discount meds to nonprofits and groups such as AIDS service providers that meet the needs of underserved clients. The program accounts for only 2 percent of drug purchases nationwide, but drug lobbyists are intent on gutting the program, according to the AHF. 

“340B works beautifully. The only people who have a problem with it are greedy drug companies and the people who support them,” said AHF president, Michael Weinstein. “And 340B does not cost the government anything: all of the discounts come from the drug companies, simply in the form of reduced profits on the sales of these drugs. As the 340B program is only two percent of all drug sales, the drug companies can easily afford this. In fact, if 340B is cut, more people will turn to the government for help. Safety net providers participating in 340B are a vital part of the healthcare delivery system which need to be reinforced not cut.”


According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Pharmacy Affairs (OPA), the 340B discount drug pricing program, which was created by Congress in 1992, “…requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations/covered entities at significantly reduced prices. The 340B Program enables covered entities to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”
“Under the guise of ‘leadership,’ the drug industry is trying to weaken and dismantle elements of the government’s successful and lifesaving 340B discount drug program, which serves underserved communities through pharmacies run by AIDS organizations like AHF as well as other community groups,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “340B works beautifully. The only people who have a problem with it are greedy drug companies and the people who support them. And 340B does not cost the government anything: all of the discounts come from the drug companies, simply in the form of reduced profits on the sales of these drugs. As the 340B program is only two percent of all drug sales, the drug companies can easily afford this. In fact, if 340B is cut, more people will turn to the government for help. Safety net providers participating in 340B are a vital part of the healthcare delivery system which need to be reinforced not cut.”
“The 340B program is under constant assault from PhRMA and the drug industry, which will not stop until they have killed or severely handicapped this program,” said Michelle Morgan, AHF’s Director of National Advocacy Campaigns, and who is spearheading Thursday’s protest. “Unfortunately, some in Congress and the administration in general seem to be far more concerned about what pharma thinks than in looking out for safety net providers and their patients. That is why we are protesting at PhRMA—to stop drug companies’ efforts to gut a federal program that helps the neediest so they can fatten their wallets. We are also demanding that HRSA abandon its ill-conceived and unlawful ‘Mega-Guidance’ recommendations.”
PhRMA Event Will Explain PhRMA’s Interpretation of HRSA’s Proposed ‘Mega-Guidance’ for 340B
The catalyst for the Roundtable Discussion hosted by PhRMA (and the protest) was the recent release of proposed ‘Mega-Guidance’ on the 340B program issued by HRSA and which is now open for public comment. This proposed Guidance, which allies of PhRMA have called “a good start,” will severely limit the ability of safety net providers to participate in the program, and restrict the amount of care and services they can provide to vulnerable populations. The luncheon roundtable is intended to discuss PhRMA’s interpretation of this Guidance. The purpose of the protest is to provide a countervailing voice, that the program works exactly as Congress intended: it saves the federal government money, and helps protect the public health.
“The Mega-Guidance that HRSA has proposed is a solution in search of a problem,” said Laura Boudreau, Chief Counsel for Operations for AHF. “The guidance goes outside the bounds of the 340B law in a number of key respects that deeply hurt safety net providers and the patients they serve. If the guidance goes through as written, there will inevitably be legal action by safety net providers to challenge it, just the way that the drug industry has previously challenged other 340B guidance.”
The pharmaceutical industry has twice sued to show that HRSA does not have the legal authority under the original 340B legislation to create regulations with the exception of in a very few areas, an assessment that AHF agrees with. In 2007, HRSA also started down the same path of issuing guidance but later withdrew it.
Harris Poll (Dec. 2013): Only 1 in 10 Americans Thinks Pharma Is “…Honest and Trustworthy.”
And from the industry that brazenly put the word ‘Integrity’ in the name of its pharmaceutical advocacy coalition, ‘Alliance for Reform and Integrity,’ a 2013 Harris Poll revealed: “Just one in ten (Americans) say they think … pharma and drug companies (10%) … are generally honest and trustworthy.”
Since then, the industry’s reputation has taken even further hits with widespread negative public reaction to the roll out of Gilead’s $1,000 per pill Hepatitis C treatment in 2013. In addition, news last month that former hedge fund manager and current Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli was raising the price of the drug Daraprim, a 62-year-old medication to treat toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill drew enormous negative media coverage, widespread public outrage and prompted calls for a government investigation. All pharma’s actions on its pricing and policies—including price-gouging like Mr. Shkreli’s—is making the issue of drug pricing and access a significant 2016 presidential campaign issue.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 492,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

Contacts

AHF
Ged Kenslea
Senior Director, Communications
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
AHF
Christopher Johnson
Associate Director of Communications
+1.323.960.4846 work
+1.310.880.9913 mobile
christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org

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