On March 5, 2010, the Office of Pharmacy Affairs published a Final Notice allowing covered entities to use multiple contract pharmacies in order to supplement “in-house” pharmacy services or to increase patient access to 340B drugs. This Final Notice replaces “Notice Regarding Section 602 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992; Contract Pharmacy Services (61 Fed. Reg. 43,549) and all other previous 340B Program guidance regarding non-network contract pharmacy services.

Under the Public Health Service Act’s Section 340B drug pricing program, manufacturers who sell covered outpatient drugs to specific federal grantees, federally-qualified health center look-alikes and qualified disproportionate share hospitals (“covered entities”) must agree to charge less than the statutorily-prescribed maximum price for those drugs, which results in significant savings on drugs for the covered entities. Previously, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) Office of Pharmacy Affairs had specified procedures under which discounts could be made available to covered entities engaging a single contract pharmacy, and had conducted an Alternative Methods Demonstration Project program in which HRSA approved a limited number of covered entities using multiple contract pharmacies.

Effective April 5, 2010, the Final Notice permits all covered entities to use multiple contract pharmacies. The guidelines in the Final Notice give covered entities and contract pharmacies a great deal of freedom in structuring their contract pharmacy services agreements, so long as they implement and maintain mechanisms to ensure compliance with 340B Program rules, especially against diversion of drugs. To learn more about the Final Notice, including compliance guidelines, potential alternatives to the single location/single pharmacy model and suggested contract provisions, read the full alert.