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Being Alive
Drug Pricing Program Threatened
Bill Mannion
June 5, 1997
Being Alive 1997 Jun 5: 11

A "Supplemental Emergency" Appropriations Bill currently before the U.S. Senate includes language canceling a federal discount drug pricing program to state, county and local governments. Section 323 of the Senate Supplemental Appropriations bill (S. 627) would repeal the federal cooperative purchasing program established under Section 1555 of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (FASA).

This program would have allowed public hospitals, state and local health departments and ADAP programs to take advantage of even greater discounts than are now available to federally-qualified health centers and some ADAP programs under the PHS 340-B pricing program. This would mean cost savings of between 31% and 62% on major hiv drugs. Equally impressive discounts would be available for drugs to treat other serious health conditions.

This program was subject to GAO (General Accounting Office) and GSA (General Services Administration) studies before being implemented nationwide. Because neither GAO nor GSA has completed their studies, the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over this program have not yet scheduled hearings or received public comments.

This action is a sneak attack by the pharmaceutical industry and other federal suppliers to kill this program before it has even begun! This could be particularly disastrous at a time when ADAP programs and other public health suppliers are struggling under the burden of the costs of providing the hiv standard of care. Mississippi's ADAP, for example, is now planning to remove 640 out of 800 patients from their program.

What can you do? Call or fax the following members of Congress and tell them to kill this sneak attack on FASA. They must allow GAO and GSA to complete their studies and then hold public hearings where groups like ours will be able to testify as to the urgent importance of these discount programs! You should also call or fax your member of Congress to give them a heads up on this sneak attack! California's Congressman to call is Republican Rep. Steve Horn (Mark Brasher is his staff person). Phone: 202.225.5147, fax: 202.226.1012.

For more information, contact Gary Rose of the AIDS Action Council (202.986.1300 x3026) or Julie Rocchio of the National Association of Public Hospitals (202.624.7255).