340B Health

Faces of 340B

Nathan Awrich, Network Director, Pharmacy Supply Chain, The University of Vermont Health Network, Vt.

Patients throughout the U.S. are caught in a downward health spiral brought about by continuously rising drug prices. Nathan Awrich, director of the pharmacy supply chain at The University of Vermont Health Network, discusses how one hospital in his system, The University of Vermont Medical Center, uses 340B savings to operate a drug cost assistance program for about 1,000 patients that helps pull them up and out of this spiral. The program is critical for these patients, as many of them are on long-term medications that carry steep out-of-pocket costs. The health system, which consists of seven hospitals in Vermont and northern New York, also has used 340B savings to build a bed tower at The University of Vermont Medical Center with individual hospital rooms. Research has demonstrated that individual rooms are better for the safety and quality of care patients receive compared to shared rooms. For the health system’s rural hospitals, 340B savings are supporting critical services such as emergency departments, specialty services, and primary care. Nathan says cutting 340B would force The University of Vermont Health Network to make tough choices about which services it could afford to maintain, and scaling back services would harm patient care.