January 16, 2020 – The 340B drug pricing program has generated countless patient stories about the difference the program makes every day in the lives of people struggling to access health care. But how does one quantify 340B’s impact on the services that safety-net hospitals offer to these patients?
Joey Mattingly, PharmD, Ph.D., has explored this question in depth at the University of Maryland Medical Center. As an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Joey has used the medical center’s drug pricing data to determine how 340B improves the services the pharmacy department provides.
“What we found through our research is that the 340B drug pricing discounts enable us the margins so that our pharmacy department can actually hire additional staff and provide better services in our hospital,” Joey said.
Joey is the latest profile in our Faces of 340B series. His research demonstrates the value of 340B and helps show that it is operating as Congress intended. The University of Maryland Medical Center is one of hundreds of hospitals using 340B savings to stretch their resources to offer services that their communities need.
The medical center has found that its patients require more high-touch patient services that necessitate additional pharmacy staff. For example, Joey shared that the hospital uses 340B savings to employ pharmacy technicians that go to patient hospital rooms and deliver medications directly to patients before they are discharged. This helps ensure patients can head home with immediate access to the medications they need to stay healthy and guidance on how to take them properly.
Data Prove 340B’s Value
Joey’s research has also found that 340B savings enable the medical center to provide free antibiotics to certain emergency department patients who cannot otherwise afford them.
As he examines his hospital’s 340B drug pricing data as a researcher, Joey has come to understand the importance of determining where 340B savings go. He explained that drug discounts are a vital factor in safety-net hospitals’ ability to employ more staff and help provide services that are more costly to provide than the revenue they bring in.
With the hard data in hand, Joey can conclude that 340B hospitals would be forced to scale back or close services if there are cuts to the program.
“At my institution, we build in these drug price discounts into our overall budget,” Joey said. “If the program went away, we would have to reallocate our resources. That might mean hiring fewer staff and having fewer programs that are available for our citizens in downtown Baltimore.”