Gang of 7: Boehringer joins group of companies targeted over drug discount program
Boehringer Ingelheim on Monday joined a growing list of biopharma companies under pressure from the Biden administration’s HRSA after restricting their own participation in a hospital discount drug program because of what they claim is an excessive number of contract pharmacies.
Whether these violations are violations as HRSA contends will likely be decided in court. Meanwhile, HRSA has made its stance clear as it previously sent identical letters to AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and United Therapeutics, explaining how the administration has determined their policies placing restrictions on 340B program pricing related to contract hospital pharmacies are in direct violation of the statute.
Late last month, HRSA sent letters to the six other companies informing them their violations have been referred to the HHS Office of the Inspector General, which can levy $5,000 fines each.
In the case of Boehringer, HRSA informed the company its Aug. 1 policy restricting access to 340B prices for certain entities is unlawful. HRSA directed Boehringer to produce a plan by Oct. 18 to restore the discounted pricing and said the company must issue credits or refunds to affected hospitals for all past overcharges.
Maureen Testoni, president and CEO of 340B Health, a nonprofit hospital group, said in a statement: “We commend HRSA for taking quick enforcement action against Boehringer Ingelheim as we requested, and we call on the company’s executives to heed the government’s directive and restore statutory discounts for safety-net hospitals. BI’s policy of withholding discounts for many of its outpatient drugs, including those used to treat patients with diabetes, is immensely harmful to 340B hospitals and the patients they serve.”
Boehringer did not respond to a request for comment.
The other companies embroiled in legal and HRSA battles have argued that they remain in full compliance of the law, and the 340B program has ballooned quickly thanks to the use of contract pharmacies.