APhA and other groups respond to PCMA brief in PBM Supreme Court case

On March 25, APhA, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA), responded to the brief that the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the association that represents PBMs, filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Rutledge v PCMA.

PCMA argues that Act 900, the Arkansas law in question that sought to regulate PBM practices in the state, is preempted by the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. PCMA contends therefore that states cannot regulate PBMs.

In a statement, PCMA claimed that federal preemption by ERISA “allows employers flexibility to administer innovative benefit plans” through PBMs, and if struck down, would “create costly administrative inefficiencies” and threaten patient access to prescription drugs.

APhA, NCPA, and APA contend that PBMs are hiding behind the false argument that ERISA exempts them from reasonable regulation by states. Earlier in March, the groups, along with the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, filed an amicus curiae brief, stating that abusive and unregulated PBM practices are harming patients and pharmacies, increasing drug costs, and threatening patient access to medications and pharmacists.

“Regulating PBMs is vital to preserving the benefits that pharmacists are valued for—helping patients make the most of their medications, avoiding preventable illnesses, managing chronic diseases, and keeping them out of the hospital,” said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, in a statement. “Patients need access to their pharmacists. Without fair regulation, the future of accessibility to pharmacists is in jeopardy.”

The arguments in Rutledge v PCMA are set to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 27, 2020. This is subject to change with the ongoing health crisis.