Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

Friends of 340B — A Prescription for a Government Program

Friends of 340B sounds like a group supporting a new highway, a ballot measure or a new 401(k)-type investment plan.

But it really is the name of new PAC registered and set up with no listed affiliation or connected organization. The treasurer is John M. Coster, senior director of government relations at the Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access. The group is a nonprofit organization of more than 1,000 public and nonprofit hospitals and health systems in the U.S. that participate in the Public Health Service 340B drug discount program.

The group advocates to extend 340B discounts to hospital inpatient settings and seeks adequate reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare and third party-payers, among other issues. The federal mandated 340B program, started in 1992, requires most drug companies to give large discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income and uninsured patients. The program has come under question as hospitals have used the 340B program to give prescription drugs to medicare or private insurance patients. The pharmaceutical industry feels the program has been misused.

Coster had been the former senior vice president for government affairs at the Generic Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Coster is a registered pharmacist and holds a doctorate in Policy Sciences from the University of Maryland. He previously worked for the Senate Aging Committee. He also worked at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association.

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