What is the 340B Drug Pricing Program?
The 340B drug pricing program is a federal program that allows certain federally designated healthcare entities to purchase drugs at a discounted rate. 340B is overseen by the Office of Pharmacy Affairs located within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). NCFHP was granted 340B status after submitting an Alternative Methods Demonstration Project model application in 2008, a unique application required for entities that contract with multiple sites.
How does 340B work at NCFHP?
NCFHP manages contract relationships with five locally-owned pharmacies and two drug wholesalers to make low-cost prescriptions available in areas serviced by its health contract sites. Through a bill-to, ship-to arrangement, medications are ordered directly by the pharmacy through a separate 340B account with their preferred wholesaler. NCFHP then pays the wholesaler directly at 340B prices. NCFHP central office staff monitor all pharmacy activity, conduct monthly audits, assist pharmacies with monthly reporting required by program, and provide technical assistance to health contract sites who use the 340B program.
340B is elected by NCFHP health contract sites that do not have an on-site pharmacy (like some Community Health Centers do) or that do not have established low-cost options in the service area that are preferred by the site. Health coordinators and outreach workers at contract sites often assist patients with accessing the medications prescribed by NCFHP providers. Patients of NCFHP health contract sites pay a $10 co-pay for their prescription filled at their 340B pharmacy, and are provided with a unique drug ID card used to provide program eligibility and keep record of patient transactions.
Why is 340B important to farmworkers?
The cost of prescription medications, in addition to numerous other barriers to care, often prevents migrant and seasonal farmworkers from obtaining the medicine they need. In previous years the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program (NCFHP) spent a large percentage of its fee-for-service (FFS) budget on pharmaceutical transactions; in 2007, drug costs were nearly 40% of the FFS budget, or over $204,000. Currently using the federal 340B drug pricing program through partnerships with local pharmacies and health contract sites across the state, it is estimated that NCFHP will spend just $12,000 for the same amount of medications while increasing farmworkers’ access to prescription medications, a critical component of the provision of quality, comprehensive health care.
Questions about NCFHP’s 340B program:
Zoë L. Cummings, MSW, MPH, CHES
Farmworker Health Operations Specialist
2009 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
Tel: (919) 527-6479
General 340B information and support:
Office of Pharmacy Affairs (HRSA)