Discount drug pricing: Cutting through the controversy

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Image by Bill Brooks via flickr.

Image by Bill Brooks via flickr.

Independent journalist Lola Butcher reports that debate about the government’s 340B Drug Pricing Program continues to build as the program expands.

“Like all good controversies, this one has enthusiastic advocates and wild-eyed opponents, and it’s easy to get snagged by the passion of the partisans,” she writes in a new tip sheet.

The program, which started in 1992, requires pharmaceutical companies to sell outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at significantly reduced prices.

Over the years, the eligibility criteria to participate has expanded repeatedly. Currently, safety-net hospitals, children’s hospitals, critical access hospitals, federal health centers and other organizations are eligible; organizations that fall into those categories must register and enroll in the 340B program.

Butcher, as a 2014 AHCJ Reporting Fellow on Health Care Performance, wrote about the migration of cancer care from physician-owned clinics and community centers to hospital outpatient departments. She found that the 340B program helped fuel that trend.

In this tip sheet for reporters, she explains the program, including the program’s winners and losers, how much money is involved and story ideas.

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