Archaic North Dakota pharmacy ownership law targeted

August 5, 2014

Opponents of a North Dakota law that has kept retailers such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens from operating pharmacies in the state are hoping to overturn the law through a statewide ballot.

Opponents of a North Dakota law that has kept retailers such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens from operating pharmacies in the state are hoping to overturn the law through a statewide ballot.

North Dakota requires pharmacies be operated by a licensed pharmacist, a business controlled by licensed pharmacists, or a hospital pharmacy or postgraduate medical residency-training program. It is the only state with such a requirement.

Those opposing the law, including various consumer groups and retail chains, recently delivered petitions containing about 23,961 signatures. According to Secretary of State Al Jaeger, at least 13,452 signatures of qualified voters are needed to get the measure on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot.

Supporters of law change say it is outdated, limits pharmacy ownership, and results in higher prescription drug costs for residents. Several attempts to change the law in the past have been defeated.

 

The North Dakota Pharmacists Association supports the law. They argue that is results in better access to pharmaceutical care and dispute that it has caused higher prices.

"Chain stores and hospitals made a valiant effort to get the law changed in the legislature and failed, so they are trying again," Michael Schwab, executive vice president of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association, previously toldDrug Topics. "It's a challenge, but it also gives us a chance to compare ourselves favorably to the other 49 states."