Louisianans with hepatitis C are more likely to face barriers to health care, making patient access to care a priority for organizations like mine that provide education, awareness, and support for patients living with chronic diseases.
For this reason, I am concerned about the shortcomings of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Policymakers designed the program in 1992 to help improve access to medicines for vulnerable, low-income patients. Since then, it has become the second-largest federal drug program, while it fails to help patients as intended.
340B’s shortcomings are a pressing issue in the hepatitis C community because 66% of patients with the disease report injected drug use, and rates of hepatitis C are highest among American Indian/Alaskan Native populations. Both injected drug users and Native Americans are more likely to experience a need for charity care and discounted medicines.
Unfortunately, the current version of the 340B Program does not include the necessary requirements to help these vulnerable patients. 65% of 340B entities’ charity care rates are below the national average. Additionally, entities charge patients the total price of medicines they receive at a 340B discount.
Louisiana policymakers like Senator Cassidy can improve patient access to care with reforms to the 340B Program, such as strengthening program requirements so that participating entities must share 340B discounts with patients and ensuring participating entities meet charity care thresholds.
President of H.E.A.L.S. of the South (an organization dedicated to providing education, awareness, and support for people living with and at-risk for hepatitis C).