Attorney General Nessel Joins Bipartisan Coalition Supporting Drug Pricing Discounts for ‘Vulnerable’ Patients

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold accountable drug manufacturers that are unlawfully refusing to provide discounts to federally qualified health centers, hospitals and other providers that serve vulnerable patient populations through the 340B Drug Pricing Program.  

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold accountable drug manufacturers that are unlawfully refusing to provide discounts to federally qualified health centers, hospitals and other providers that serve vulnerable patient populations through the 340B Drug Pricing Program.  

In their letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the attorneys general argue that by withholding or threatening to withhold these critical discounts, drug manufacturers are putting low-income patients at risk of losing access to affordable medications while communities continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Drug companies are undermining this critical program at a time when providers are struggling to serve their communities and many families are likewise struggling to make ends meet at home,” Nessel said.

As a condition of having their drugs covered by Medicaid and Medicare Part B, Congress required drug manufacturers to enter into Pharmaceutical Pricing Agreements (PPA) with the HHS Secretary to limit the amount public hospitals, community health centers, and others serving indigent patients have to pay drug manufacturers for medications. These PPAs require the companies to offer each covered medication to providers “at or below the applicable ceiling price.” 

Instead of complying with their obligations, drug companies such as Eli Lilly & Co., AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., United Therapeutics Corp. and others have “unlawfully refused to provide discounts, potentially depriving Americans who rely on them with essential health care resources they need as the country deals with a public health crisis,” the coalition said.   

The HHS has the authority to require companies that violate the 340B Drug Pricing Program to, for example, reimburse covered health care centers and/or HHS may terminate manufacturers’ PPAs

In sending the letter, Nessel is joined by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.  

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