Today was a historic day for pharmacists and their patients
Today, after decades of pharmacy advocates fighting at the federal and state levels to gain better control of drug pricing and protect the viability of community pharmacies, the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Rutledge v Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), which may finally determine whether states can control the terrible business practices of PBMs. Finally, the most critical grievances of our profession have been heard in the highest court of the land. Learn more about the case. Missed it? Don’t worry. A recording of the session can be heard here.
As you know very well, PBMs have been unaccountable to anyone since their inception, hiding behind a federal law that was never intended to shield the kind of harm that they’ve inflicted on pharmacies, pharmacists, and patients. We hope that today’s arguments will mark the start of a new era in pharmacy.
We are proud to have cosponsored the amicus brief in this case, supporting our friends and colleagues at the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations. And don’t forget that 45 state pharmacy associations signed on to the amicus brief, too. This was a true national effort.
I want to extend special thanks to our brothers and sisters in Arkansas, where this case originated: Pharmacy patriots such as Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO John Vinson, their President Kristen Riddle, and the many pharmacists and staff members in Arkansas who fought the good fight for so many years. I must also thank Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, whose office led this fight through the federal court system. There were many setbacks along the way, but they persevered in the knowledge that they were doing the right thing. They never quit!
So, what’s next? The arguments from our side were very strong. I was proud of Team Pharmacy. However, it’s hard to speculate with confidence what will happen. We don’t expect a decision from the Court until next year, possibly as late as June.
But we won’t stand still waiting for a decision—we can’t. There is legislation passed or pending to regulate PBMs across the country. We must support these efforts. APhA will continue to advocate for change and educate everyone about what PBMs are doing. As we like to say, we’re in the business of calling balls and strikes: When someone does something good, we praise them. When they don’t, we call them on it. And we will.
In fact, the battle has only begun. I’m glad to have our members at our side as we continue our fight to do the right thing for pharmacy, pharmacists, and our patients. Thank you for your membership and dedication to APhA and to the profession.