'A great day for pharmacists and their patients'
ARLINGTON, Va. – The FMI and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores were among the groups that praised a Thursday Supreme Court ruling that they say restored a pro-pharmacy, pro-consumer Arkansas law that, among other things, required pharmacy benefit managers to reimburse pharmacies at or above what the pharmacies paid to acquire certain medications.
“FMI is pleased that the Supreme Court voted unanimously to protect public access to health care through local pharmacies by allowing states to regulate PBMs, which have been allowed to operate virtually unchecked for far too long,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI — The Food Industry Association. “This decision is a strong vote of confidence by the Supreme Court as FMI works to achieve greater oversight of PBMs. More than ever, Americans need convenient access to supermarket pharmacies and wellness services. Pharmacists are among the country’s most accessible health care providers, with close to 90% of the U.S. population living within five miles of a pharmacy. Our members want to preserve convenient, affordable access to supermarket pharmacies in every community and to prevent ‘pharmacy deserts’ for customers.”
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Rutledge, Attorney General of Arkansas v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association upholds a Arkansas’ Act 900. FMI and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores were among the groups that filed amicus briefs supporting the law.
“NACDS applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling and is honored to have engaged in this process through the arguments provided in our amicus brief,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “These arguments are substantiated by the dedicated efforts of NACDS members and their teams in communities across the nation, and this U.S. Supreme Court ruling encourages these trusted healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.”
Other pharmacy groups also praised the decision.
“This is a historic victory for independent pharmacies and their patients,” said Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “And it confirms the rights of states to enact reasonable regulations in the name of fair competition and public health.”
“This is a great day for pharmacists and their patients,” said Scott J. Knoer, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association. “For years, PBMs have threatened the sacrosanct relationship between pharmacists and their patients and have never been forced to answer to any authority for their actions. This opinion redresses that imbalance and returns the power to protect the interests of patients to the states and other local authorities, where it belongs.”
“We’re excited to see a unanimous decision from the Court on this case — it’s truly a best case scenario for patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies,” said Rebecca Snead, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations executive vice president and CEO. “Now, it’s time to get to work to make sure states have appropriate PBM regulations in place, and continue to work with our members of Congress to do the same for the federal programs.”
“Today, Arkansas pharmacists join their colleagues across the country to celebrate a triumphant victory years in the making,” said Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO John Vinson. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that states can finally protect our patients who receive their pharmacy benefits through their employers. This win should increase drug pricing transparency, increase pharmacy access for patients, improve freedom of choice, and improve the healthcare for our citizens both during and after the pandemic.”
The PCMA, the national association representing PBMs, had a markedly different response, contending that the ruling “will result in the unraveling of federal protections” under ERISA. “As states across the country consider this outcome, we would encourage they proceed with caution and avoid any regulations around prescription drug benefits that will result in higher healthcare costs for consumers and employers.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the court. All other members of the court joined in the opinion, except justice Amy Coney Barrett who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion.