200 Protesters Tell U.S. Rep. Scott Peters to Drop Bill Gutting 340B Drug Program

U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA, 52nd District)—who has taken more than $100,000 in contributions from the drug industry while in Congress—co-sponsored legislation with Congressman Larry Bucshon  (R-IN, 8th District) that stops new, eligible non-profit hospitals from joining the 340B drug pricing program.

H.R. 4710 is a moratorium on new enrollment in 340B that strangles non-profit hospitals with useless red tape, ultimately leading to a reduction in healthcare—including for many individuals in Peters’ own district.

SAN DIEGO (February 23, 2018) A group of more than 200 picketers concerned about an ongoing assault by the pharmaceutical industry on a drug price discount program utilized by many non-profit hospitals and community clinics to help them provide medical care and services to low-income individuals and underserved populations, took part in a robust demonstration and picket line in front of the district office of San Diego Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA, 52nd District) on Thursday, February 22nd.

The demonstrators denounced and protested Peters’ introduction of federal legislation (H.R. 4710) that will gut the 340B program, a federally-administered drug discount program created to extend the lifeline of care and services that safety net hospitals and providers are able to deliver. The bill stops new, eligible non-profit hospitals from joining the 340B drug pricing program. The 340B program costs the government and taxpayers nothing.

Peters introduced the bill with co-sponsor Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D., (R-IN, 8th District) in late December with little public notice or input. 

To view photos of the 340B/Scott Peters protest, click here.

To view one of the local San Diego TV news stories on the protest (NBC-7), click here.

“The 340B program is under continual assault by the drug industry, which views it as a growing threat to the industry’s profits, as the price discounts in the program come directly from the drug companies, NOT from taxpayers or the government, which administers the program,” said Tracy Jones, National Director of Advocacy Campaigns for AHF, which spearheaded the Peters demonstration. “We are demonstrating at Congressman Peters’ office to pull back the curtain on this being anything but a pharma-backed attack on 340B and urge the congressman to reconsider his sponsorship of this ill-advised bill.”

“Any legislation seeking to ‘reform’ or ‘improve’ 340B should be read for what it really is: a direct attack on a worthy program that is working well, helping those in need and one that costs the government nothing,” said John Hassell, National Director of Advocacy for AHF. “It’s an assault by pharma through willing legislators like Congressmen Peters, who have taken pharma’s money and do their bidding, regardless of the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of countless Americans—including many of their own constituents.”

Thursday’s protest in San Diego followed a similar, but smaller late December protest against Congressman Peters in San Diego as well as a January 2018 protest targeting H.R. 4710’s co-sponsor, Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D., at his Terra Haute, IN district office.

About the 340B Program

The 340B program was enacted by Congress as part of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to allow designated safety net medical providers, called “covered entities”, to purchase prescription outpatient drugs directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers at discounted prices.  As a discount program, 340B costs federal taxpayers and the government nothing.  Congress itself expressed that the goal of the program is “to enable [covered entities] to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”