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feature 340B Opportunity

340B: New Opportunities and New Partners Serving as the contract 340B pharmacy for a rural hospital helps create revenue and keep healthcare local. by Will Lockwood


onnie Meredith works hard to ensure that The Drug Store provides well-diversified one-stop service to the rural farming and oil community of Haskell, Texas, and the surrounding area. It’s a part of the country where, according to Meredith, the next red light is 30 miles to the south, 70 to the east, almost 100 to the north, and 170 to the west. He provides DME and compounding and also delivers every weekday to three nearby communities — Throckmorton, Munday, and Knox City. This isn’t just because it’s smart business to offer everything your patients need. It’s also because it’s necessary. The Drug Store is the only pharmacy in Haskell, and one of only four within a 30-mile radius. And since July of this year, The Drug Store is now also the 340B contract pharmacy for Throckmorton County Memorial Hospital, which is designated as a critical-access hospital under federal guidelines. What this means is that Meredith is now a partner in providing access to reducedcost medications to the hospital’s patients, both those with and those without insurance.

The Background The 340B program was originally designed by the federal government to help indigent patients without insurance. Recently, though, the program has been opened up to allow critical-access hospitals, typically small and rural, to participate. This expansion has made the program available in many more communities around the country, 14


Lonnie Meredith, owner, The Drug Store “You help your patients with 340B, and you keep healthcare within the community.” and community pharmacy has taken notice, with interest in participation as a contract pharmacy growing dramatically. “In the past, the program was strictly for those without insurance,” explains Meredith. “But now all patients are eligible if they are receiving treatment from a physician working for a covered entity and that treatment meets a specific set of criteria, even if the patients have insurance.” This expansion provides important support for access to healthcare in rural areas, according to Meredith. “Many rural hospitals are struggling, more than even urban hospitals,” he says. “340B is a way for these hospitals to develop another revenue stream, which can be significant for them.”

How 340B Works The program is subsidized by pharmaceutical manufacturers, which are required to provide outpatient drugs at 340B program pricing to enrolled “covered