The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) applauds the U.S Supreme Court’s decision to hear Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which addresses the State of Arkansas’ regulation of pharmacy benefit managers (PBM). The Arkansas law is intended to provide fair access to generic drugs in Arkansas and transparency in PBM industry practices. The law regulates PBMs and protects patient access to generic medicines by requiring PBMs to reimburse pharmacies for generic drugs at a price at least equal to what the pharmacy had paid for the drug. This case has broad implications on PBM regulation across the country.
“We’re pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case,” said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, APhA Senior Vice President, Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs. “PBM business practices have been putting significant financial strain on pharmacies in the United States by pulling financial resources that were once applied to patient care into unproductive administrative layers and profits for the middlemen. This in turn impacts patient access to the services and patient care delivered by pharmacists every day in communities across the country.” State regulatory oversight plays an important role in curbing PBM detrimental practices.
The State of Arkansas challenged an 8th Circuit Court decision that ruled in favor of the PBM trade association claim that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempts state regulation of reimbursement and payment practices of PBMs. Many states have laws or have attempted to pass laws to regulate PBM practices and the lower courts are split on whether ERISA bars state action and activities related to PBMs.
“The court’s decision demonstrates how important this issue is,” said Bernstein. “State regulatory oversight plays an important role in curbing PBMs. A ruling from the Supreme Court will provide clarity in the U.S., she adds. APhA fully supports pharmacists in seeking fairness and protecting patient access to care.”