NCPA.org News Release
Case seeks to clarify if states can regulate runaway corporate middlemen
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA), along with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), announced today they will file an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of a case that pits pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) against neighborhood healthcare providers.
"The PBMs have been hiding behind a vaguely worded section of a federal law that was never supposed to apply to them," said B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, which represents 21,000 locally owned pharmacies nationwide. "They operate without meaningful regulation, and because of that they're able to stack the deck in their favor, and at the expense of community pharmacies and their patients."
The case, Rutledge v. the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, will be heard on April 27, 2020, the Court announced today. It originates from Arkansas, which passed a law in 2015 barring PBMs from reimbursing local pharmacies at a lower rate than what the pharmacies pay to fill the prescriptions. The PBM lobby, PCMA, challenged the law in court, which is when the APA and NCPA joined the effort to ensure the 2015 precedent stands.
"For countless years, PBMs have tightened the noose on pharmacists and their ability to serve their communities and provide access to life-saving medications and essential counseling," said APA CEO and Executive Vice President John Vinson, Pharm.D. "Instead, PBMs have prioritized profits and stockholders by using anti-competitive practices, self-dealing, and monopoly-like business practices to create an environment where patients, pharmacists, and employers suffer the consequences — patients lose their choice, pharmacists lose their jobs, and employers lose their money."
That case made its way to the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the judge ruled in favor of the PBMs. When Arkansas appealed the ruling, the Supreme Court asked the US Solicitor General to recommend whether to take the case. Not only did he urge the Court to take the case, but he argued strongly that the 8th Circuit erred in its decision.
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