Neighborhood pharmacies say corporate middlemen are hiding behind vague federal statutes to avoid accountability
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 8, 2020) - The National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents the country's over 21,000 independent pharmacies, is available for comment Friday when the United States Supreme Court decides whether to hear a case that could pave the way for states to more thoroughly regulate multi-billion-dollar corporate middlemen who are driving up the out-of-pocket costs of prescription medicines.
"A handful of PBMs that rival the most profitable corporations in the world somehow operate with very little oversight because of confusion over whether federal law preempts the states from regulating them," said Mustafa Hersi, NCPA's vice president and general counsel. "They have failed entirely to manage the cost of prescription drugs for patients, but they are driving local pharmacies out of business. There is bipartisan agreement in the states that the PBMs must be regulated. Based on what is at stake, we are confident that the Supreme Court will take the case."
NCPA has been battling the PBMs in court, on Capitol Hill, and in the state legislatures for many years. This case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, originates from Arkansas, where the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the PBM lobby. The Eighth Circuit ruled that a federal law governing the administration of employee benefits preempts the state from restricting controversial business practices that are destroying local pharmacies.
"We were very encouraged when the U.S. Solicitor General filed a brief with the Court that disagreed with the Eighth Circuit," said Hersi. "We are optimistic that the Supreme Court will take the case. And we believe the Court will recognize that states have the right and the obligation to protect their citizens and local businesses from runaway corporate middlemen."
For additional background or comment, please contact NCPA. For more information about NCPA, please visit www.ncpanet.org.
# # #
Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing 22,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America's most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpanet.org.