On August 11, Merck issued a letter announcing its policy to stop “voluntarily” providing 340B discounts to 340B hospitals on drugs dispensed at contract pharmacies unless the hospital provides 340B contract pharmacy claims data through the 340B ESPTM platform for both Medicaid and non-Medicaid claims. Merck joins seven other drug manufacturers that have adopted similar policies based on their unilateral interpretations of the 340B statute. Merck will continue to provide 340B drugs to pharmacies owned by the hospital, and hospitals that do not have an in-house pharmacy capable of dispensing 340B drugs may designate a single contract pharmacy location through the 340B ESPTM program to receive shipments of 340B drugs. The new policy is effective September 1, 2021.
Notably, Merck’s new policy does not apply to federal grantees or FQHC Look-Alikes. However, Merck continues to “encourage” federal grantees to provide all contract pharmacy claims-level data through the 340B ESPTM platform, noting that it will continue to evaluate grantees’ program participation “to determine if further action is warranted”.
Merck’s new policy follows the notice that it sent last summer asking 340B safety-net providers to participate voluntarily in the 340B ESPTM program, which requires submission of 340B claims data on commercial and Medicare Part D claims, in addition to Medicaid claims. Merck now states that 340B safety-net providers’ participation to date has been “very low”.