The 340B Discount Program Outpatient Prescription Dispensing Patterns Through Contract Pharmacies In 2012
Author: Bobby L. Clark, John Hou, Chia-Hung Chou, Elbert S. Huang, Rena Conti
Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act provides qualified organizations serving vulnerable populations with deep discounts for some outpatient medications. A 2010 regulatory change widely expanded the 340B program’s reach, allowing these organizations to contract with retail pharmacies to dispense medications for eligible patients. Little is known about which medications are dispensed by contract pharmacies under the expanded program. We provide the first comparison of 340B prescriptions and all prescriptions dispensed in contract pharmacies. We used 2012 data from Walgreens, the national leader in 340B contract pharmacies. Medications used to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, asthma, and depression accounted for an overwhelming majority of all prescriptions dispensed at Walgreens as part of the 340B program. A higher percentage of antiretrovirals used to treat HIV/AIDS were dispensed through 340B prescriptions than through all prescriptions dispensed at Walgreens. The majority of 340B prescriptions dispensed at Walgreens originated at tuberculosis clinics, consolidated health centers, disproportionate-share hospitals, and Ryan White clinics. Our results suggest that 340B contract pharmacies dispense medications used to treat Americans’ chronic disease burden and disproportionately dispense medications used by key vulnerable populations targeted by the program.