Reform oversight causes children's hospitals to lose drug discounts

It may be harder for children's and community hospitals to obtain drugs for sick kids and low-income people thanks to an oversight in the healthcare reform law that disqualifies the facilities from receiving discounts on "specialized orphan drugs," reports the New York Times. Such hospitals already have been sent letters citing as much from drugmakers like Genetech and Allergan, the latter of which provides cancer medicines like Avastin and Tarceva, as well as the blood-clot drug Activase. 

Lawmakers say they didn't mean to do away with the discounts, calling the situation "an honest mistake in drafting" according to the Times. The newspaper points out that already, the House voted to bring the discounts back, and that legislation to do the same was presented in the Senate yesterday. 

Such a loss would be a big blow to caring for children and the underprivileged alike. "[This] jeopardizes our ability to care for some of the sickest children with the most complex healthcare needs," Joshua Greenberg, vice president of Children's Hospital Boston, told the Times

"We were given an advantage with one hand, and it was taken away with the other hand," added Christina Barnes, pharmacy director at Galion (Ohio) Community Hospital. 

The discounts offered usually fall between 30 and 50 percent, the Times reports, and lack of such cuts could cost "hundreds of millions of dollars." 

To learn more:
- here's the New York Times article