Amgen joins eight other rogue drug companies by declaring this week that it will refuse to sell ‘orphan drugs’ (expensive drugs for rare diseases) at the legally required ‘340B price’ as required by section 340B of the U.S. Health Services Act
Refusals are tone-deaf moves by obscenely wealthy drug companies during height of coronavirus pandemic
WASHINGTON (December 10, 2020) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) strongly condemns Amgen for its announced refusal to sell “orphaned” drugs at reduced prices to non-profit providers who are covered entities under the 340B Drug Discount Program. The U.S. government already gives special favors to drug companies to produce expensive “orphaned drugs” for rare diseases that would otherwise be unaffordable.
Amgen has joined eight other companies who have declared they will no longer offer drugs at the reduced 340B price to covered entities’ contract pharmacies as required by section 340B of the U.S. Health Services Act.
This announcement is a serious blow to many rural hospitals and non-profit community health centers overwhelmed with the current COVID-19 crisis. They depend on the savings from the 340B program to keep open to stretch existing federally funded health care programs. Many of these small providers can’t afford to open and run their own pharmacies and use contract pharmacies to maximize their participation in the 340B program (see 340B Report) .
“At a time when the U.S. health system is under tremendous stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, this giant, enormously wealthy drug company has decided to make it worse. The rapacious greed of Amgen is limitless,” said John Hassell, national director of advocacy for AHF. “AHF calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to do its job and stop this callous drug industry attack on the U.S. healthcare safety net. Nonprofit healthcare entities depend on savings from the 340B Drug Discount Program to provide essential lifesaving services to needy under-insured patients all over the country. AHF calls on the incoming Biden Administration to enforce the law and issue immediate sanctions against every drug company refusing to sell their medications at the 340B price to eligible 340B covered entities. It’s a social justice imperative for the new administration to protect the 340B Drug Discount Program.”
“These incredibly wealthy drug companies have no shame,” added Hassell. “They tried and failed to use their political contributions and armies of lobbyists to convince Congress to strangle 340B, a program that costs taxpayers nothing. Now they are unilaterally taking the law into their own hands. Congress intentionally expanded the program, with the full knowledge and explicit approval of the drug industry. In 2010, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congress increased the number and types of nonprofit hospitals that can participate. Drug companies actively pushed for ACA because they knew that, between Medicaid expansion and the individual mandate, they would have a payer source for their drugs for tens of millions of new people. Since 2010, total drug company sales have now increased by over $85 billion per year.”