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Capitol Health Call
April 11, 2012

Drug Program Probed

JAMA. 2012;307(14):1476. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.416

Four Republican members of Congress are asking questions about possible misuse of a federal program that allows certain safety-net entities to buy drugs at discounted prices for needy patients.

The 340B program was created in 1992 and has increased from 591 hospitals participating in 2005 to 1673 in 2011—nearly a third of all US hospitals. A report last year by the Government Accountability Office found the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the 340B program, could not provide reasonable assurance that covered entities and drug manufacturers are in compliance with program requirements, such as giving medications only to eligible patients (http://tinyurl.com/835u8ws). Participating institutions may dispense the discounted drugs to patients who are uninsured, on marginal incomes, or without another source for preventive and primary care services. The concern is that entities may be buying discounted drugs, giving these medications to different patients, and charging insurers or Medicare full price.

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