July 20, 2010 - The introduction to 340B session has been a reasonably well-attended mainstay of 340B Coalition annual conferences for all 14 years of the event's existence.
But even long-time attendees say they couldn't recall ever seeing a gathering this large for the three-hour crash course, typically held just prior to the conference's official opening session. Roughly 500 people came to the "optional" pre-conference workshop on July 19, which offers a rapid-paced overview of 340B basics designed with program newcomers in mind.
Retiring Office of Pharmacy of Affairs (OPA) Director Jimmy Mitchell's eyes opened wide when he was invited to peek into the room to size up the gathering for himself. A smile soon crossed his face.
Although it was imposible to say for certain, many in the group did indeed appear to be first-timers.
Scott North, the pharmacy director of Burgess Health Center, a critical access hospital in Onawa, Iowa, said he came to the conference and the workshop hoping "to determine our eligibility, to determine what the savings might be, and to learn about patient eligibility and inventory compliance." He noted that he will be reporting what he learns to several other critical access hospitals in his state.
Companies, too, were eager to learn about the drug discount program. Frank Middleton, a principal of EquiScript, a start-up that provides pharmacy management services to 340B covered entities, said he came to the conference and workshop "to develop a deeper knowledge of 340B's rules and regulations and for the rich opportunities to network."
"This is a highly regulated industry and you need to be very familiar with it if you're going to work in this space as a covered entity or a vendor," he said.