Pharmacy Groups Praise Landmark SCOTUS Ruling on PBM Regulation

December 10, 2020
Christine Blank

SCOTUS' decision upholds an Arkansas law regulating PBMs’ drug reimbursement rates.

Several pharmacy groups praised the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) landmark ruling to uphold an Arkansas law regulating pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBMs) drug reimbursement rates.

SCOTUS’s unanimous 8 to 0 decision in the case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), ruled “in favor of the interests of patients and community pharmacies, who have been fighting for years to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)…,” the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said in a press release.1,2

At issue was the extent to which the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which regulates private employee benefit plans, preempts the states from regulating the amount that PBMs pay pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs that are covered by an employer-sponsored health plan.

“This is a historic victory for independent pharmacies and their patients. And it confirms the rights of states to enact reasonable regulations in the name of fair competition and public health,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh.1

This is a great day for pharmacists and their patients,” echoed Scott J. Knoer, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).“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.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven Anderson said that the decision is strong and sound, and it is extremely significant for Arkansans and for the residents of approximately 40 other states that have enacted similar laws.”2

“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, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations.1 “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.”

References

1. Supreme Court of the United States. Rutledge, Attorney General of Arkansas v. Pharmaceutical Management Care Association. October 2020. Accessed December 10, 2020. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/18-540_m64o.pdf

2. Pharmacy groups react to Supreme Court ruling on state regulation of controversial PBMs. News release. NCPA; December 10, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2020. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2020/12/10/pharmacy-groups-react-supreme-court-ruling-state-regulation

3. NACDS welcomes landmark court decision on Rutledge, upholding Arkansas’ move to regulate PBMs. News release. NACDS; December 10, 2020. Accessed December 10, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-welcomes-landmark-supreme-court-decision-on-rutledge-upholding-arkansas-move-to-regulate-pbms/