For Immediate Release
Contact Leslie Wolcott
Raleigh, NC and Washington DC: On October 21, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) filed suit in the D.C. District Court to respond to drug manufacturers’ actions that dismantle the health center federal 340B drug discount program.
“We strongly support this action to protect the 340B drug discount program, which is essential to our community health centers and their patients,” said Chris Shank, CEO and President of the North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA). “Without these discounts, health center patients could not access affordable medications, and our state’s safety net providers would lose vital savings that enable them to provide other needed services to their communities.”
By requiring drug manufacturers to offer discounted medications to critical safety net providers like Community Health Centers, the 340B program reduces costs of medications for underserved communities without spending a dime of tax dollars. Yet, some major drug companies are violating the 340B statute by abruptly cutting off discounted drugs to health centers’ contracted pharmacies.
“For the rural communities of Caswell and Rockingham Counties that we serve, the 340B drug discount program is a lifeline,” said William Crumpton, CEO of Caswell Family Medical Center, one of NCCHCA’s member community health centers. “Recent threats to the program threaten our ability to make medications affordable, respond to COVID-19, and generally care for our patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.”
Most of North Carolina’s CHCs rely on contract pharmacy partners to increase access to pharmacy services for their patients throughout the state. These contract pharmacy arrangements, which have been targeted by drug manufacturers’ restrictions, reduce patients’ barriers to accessing life-saving medications, including cost, travel time and distance, and operating hours.
Thanks to the 340B Drug Discount Program, NC CHCs are able to provide these life-saving medicines through in-house pharmacies and contract pharmacy partners, as well as leverage savings to furnish other services. Without the 340B program, North Carolina’s 42 Community Health Center (CHC) organizations would not have been able to serve over 631,000 patients across over 270 care delivery sites in 85 North Carolina counties in 2019.
NCCHCA calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to heed the calls of bipartisan members of Congress, including Senator Thom Tillis, Representative G.K. Butterfield, Representative David Price, Representative David Rouzer, and Representative Alma Adams, to take action immediately to protect patients’ and health centers’ access to affordable medications.