June 23, 2021

Around the nation: HHS withdraws policy requiring drugmakers to give 340B discounts to pharmacies

Daily Briefing

    HHS on Friday withdrew its advisory opinion from December 2020 that prevented drugmakers from restricting sales to contract pharmacies under the 340B program, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Tennessee.

    • District of Columbia: HHS on Friday withdrew its advisory opinion from December 2020 that prevented drugmakers from restricting sales to contract pharmacies under the 340B program. Last week, a U.S. District judge denied HHS' request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by AstraZeneca challenging the rule. HHS said it withdrew the opinion to "[avoid] confusion and unnecessary litigation," a decision that makes AstraZeneca's lawsuit against the opinion moot. However, according to Fierce Healthcare, HHS "has not withdrawn a series of letters it sent to AstraZeneca and five other drugmakers last month calling for them to end the restrictions to contract pharmacies." Those letters, rather than citing the advisory opinion, state that the drug makers violated the federal 340B statute by restricting sales to contract pharmacies (Brady, Modern Healthcare, 6/21; King, Fierce Healthcare, 6/21).
    • Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and state lawmakers on Monday unveiled the Thomas Bloom Raskin Act, which expands Maryland's 211 crisis call center to allow trained counselors to periodically check in with those needing mental health support. The program, which takes effect July 1, is named after Rep. Jamie Raskin's (D-Md.) son, who died by suicide in December (Flynn, Washington Post, 6/21).
    • Tennessee: LifePoint Health has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kindred Healthcare, a network of long-term acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities, and inpatient rehabilitation hospitals based in Kentucky. Over the next three years, LifePoint said it intends to invest $1.5 billion into Kindred's operations. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year (Larson, Louisville Business First, 6/21; Paavola, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/21).

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