Faces of 340B
Hali Brown, pharmacy manager and 340B director, Community HealthCare System, Kan.
Community HealthCare System (CHCSKS) includes a critical access hospital and six family clinics in northeast Kansas. Hali Brown is the health system’s pharmacy manager and 340B director. CHCSKS primarily serves a rural community in which patients often must travel 30 to 60 miles to receive care. The health system relies on partnerships with community pharmacies to dispense outpatient medications because it does not have its own in-house outpatient pharmacy. These pharmacy partners are in the neighborhoods where patients live, ensuring patients can access their medications closer to home. Through these partnerships, patients with low incomes also can receive discounts on their medications through the health system’s 340B savings. But drug company restrictions on 340B discounts to safety-net health systems such as CHCSKS have caused spikes in these patients’ out-of-pocket costs that can total hundreds of dollars for vital medications such as insulin. Some patients with diabetes who were unable to afford the price hikes were admitted to the hospital because they no longer could control their blood-sugar levels. Although some drug companies with 340B restrictions allow CHCSKS to designate a single 340B community pharmacy partnership, patients who do not live close to a designated pharmacy are being forced to drive up to an hour to access 340B-discounted medications. Hali says that if drug companies continue to restrict 340B discounts, patients in the community will see their health outcomes worsen.