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A growing number of drug makers are taking steps to curtail the discounts they offer through a federal program for safety-net hospitals, the latest effort in a long-running battle by the pharmaceutical industry to limit payments to the controversial initiative.

At issue is the 340B drug discount program, which was created in 1992 and requires drug makers to offer discounts that are typically estimated to be 25% to 50% — but could be much higher — on all outpatient drugs to hospitals and clinics that serve indigent populations. There are approximately 12,400 so-called covered entities, including 2,500 hospitals, participating in the program.

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