WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the below statement after the Department of Health and Human Services delayed—for the fifth time—a rule that would fine pharmaceutical companies for knowingly and intentionally overcharging hospitals for prescription drugs under the federal 340B program. The 340B program requires drug companies to offer discounts on prescriptions to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income and underserved communities.

“It is unthinkable that the Administration keeps delaying this rule that fines pharmaceutical companies for intentionally overcharging hospitals for the prescription drugs patients need. We should be cracking down on these kinds of unfair practices so we can bring down prescription drug prices for the American people, not pushing them off to the cheers of big pharmaceutical companies.”

“We appreciate Senator Klobuchar’s strong support for the 340B program,” said Lawrence Massa, president and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “The program provides critical support for hospitals and health systems as they work to serve patients and build healthy communities. Rather than addressing the real issue of the skyrocketing cost of pharmaceuticals, this delay will punish 340B hospitals serving vulnerable patients and rural areas.”

In October, Klobuchar and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) led 10 colleagues in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing alarm over the Department’s decision to further delay implementation of the rule holding drug companies accountable for overcharging for prescription drugs.

Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers and lower prescription drug costs by promoting competition in the healthcare system, authoring multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation that would address the high cost of prescription drugs. Klobuchar introduced legislation—that has 33 cosponsors—to lift the ban on Medicare negotiating for the best possible price of prescription drugs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Last year, Klobuchar and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow individuals to safely import prescription drugs from Canada. Klobuchar has also introduced the bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to limit “pay for delay” deals—the practice of brand-name drug companies using anti-competitive pay-off agreements to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. Klobuchar’s Short on Competition Act, introduced with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), would allow temporary importation of drugs that have been approved in another country with similar safety requirements and face little or no competition in the U.S. The bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act would address abusive tactics that delay or prevent affordable drugs from entering the market.