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After months of controversy, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a stern rebuke to several large drug makers that have sought to curtail the discounts they offer through a federal program for safety-net hospitals and clinics.

At issue is the 340B drug discount program, which 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 low-income populations. There are approximately 12,400 so-called covered entities, including 2,500 hospitals, participating in the program.

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