Trending News Today: Senators Now Looking into 340B Program

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The FDA said yesterday it plans to significantly reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes in an effort to help individuals quit smoking and prevent others from starting, according to NPR. Although there have been major efforts to reduce the harms of tobacco, cigarette smoking still kills nearly 500,000 Americans each year. The FDA has yet to determine how much nicotine it will cut, but it cited research that supported reducing levels to 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams per cigarette, according to the article.

Senate GOP leaders have said they support making changes to the 340B drug discount program, joining forces with House Republicans who seek to revise it, according to STAT. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee discussed 340B with hospital representatives and pharmaceutical manufacturers, who sit on opposite sides of the issue. The meeting was the first indicator that the Senate was interested in tackling the program, which opponents say has grown too large, according to the article.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to ban gag clauses, which prevent pharmacists from informing patients whether they could save money on prescription drugs by paying cash, according to The Hill. The gag clauses have sometimes been included in contracts with pharmacy benefit managers. The senators who introduced the bill said that insurance is supposed to ensure that patients are paying the best price, but gag clauses prevent that from happening, according to the article.