The Rising Tide of GLP-1 Prescriptions and the 340B Program: A Golden Opportunity for Health Systems

DALL·E 2024-05-27 19.39.19 - A dynamic healthcare-themed image illustrating the rise in GLP-1 prescriptions and the benefits of the 340B Drug Pricing Program for health systems. T

The healthcare landscape is evolving rapidly, and one of the significant developments in recent years is the increased use of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Originally developed for managing type 2 diabetes, these medications have shown impressive results in weight management, leading to a surge in prescriptions. Concurrently, the 340B Drug Pricing Program offers a unique opportunity for health systems to expand their pharmacy businesses by filling GLP-1 prescriptions for their patients. 

GLP-1 receptor agonists, such as semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and liraglutide (Victoza, Saxenda), have become popular due to their dual benefits in managing blood sugar levels and promoting weight loss. The effectiveness of these medications in reducing cardiovascular risks further boosts their appeal. As a result, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of GLP-1 prescriptions. In a recent white paper published by IQVIA, 340B product sales for GLP-1’s are shown to far outpace other anti-obesity and diabetes products – see below.

For more detailed insights into the size and impact of the 340B Program, you can refer to the [IQVIA Update on the Size of the 340B Program Report 2024](https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/us/white-paper/2024/iqvia-update-on-size-of-340b-program-report-2024.pdf).

Several factors contribute to this growth:

  1. Clinical Effectiveness: Proven efficacy in managing diabetes and obesity, with favorable side effect profiles.
  2. Increased Awareness: More healthcare providers are recognizing the benefits of GLP-1s and prescribing them more frequently.
  3. Patient Demand: Patients are becoming more informed about treatment options and requesting these medications from their healthcare providers.
  4. Broader Indications: Expanding indications and ongoing research suggesting additional benefits beyond diabetes and obesity.

The 340B Drug Pricing Program and the Opportunity for Health Systems

The 340B Program allows eligible healthcare organizations to purchase medications at significantly reduced prices. This program aims to help healthcare providers serving vulnerable populations to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.

With the rising demand for GLP-1 medications, health systems participating in the 340B Program have a unique opportunity to leverage the explosive growth of GLP-1’s to build their pharmacy services.

  • Cost Savings: By leveraging 340B pricing, health systems can acquire GLP-1 medications at reduced costs, passing on these savings to patients and improving medication adherence.
  • Expanded Services: Health systems can broaden their pharmacy services offered to each patient through med sync practices beyond the patient’s GLP-1s.
  • Patient Retention: Offering GLP-1 prescriptions through the health system’s pharmacy can improve patient retention and satisfaction, as patients prefer the convenience of obtaining their medications in one place.
  • Financial Benefits: The difference between the 340B purchase price and the reimbursement from payers can provide a financial boost to health systems, enabling them to reinvest in patient care services.
  • Improved Outcomes: Facilitating easier access to GLP-1 medications can lead to better health outcomes for patients with diabetes and obesity, aligning with the health system’s mission to provide high-quality care.

The surge in GLP-1 prescriptions presents a significant growth opportunity for health systems, particularly those participating in the 340B Program. By strategically enhancing their pharmacy operations to meet the rising demand for these medications, health systems can achieve cost savings, improve patient outcomes, and bolster their financial stability. Embracing this opportunity not only benefits the health system but also ensures that patients receive the high-quality care they deserve.