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CEO DATELINE – PCMA sues Oklahoma over ‘right to pharmacy’ law

Nov. 13, 2019
By Walt Williams

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The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association is suing Oklahoma to stop enforcement of a new law that would give patients more flexibility in choosing their pharmacies, with the group saying state regulation is preempted by federal law.

The Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act gives patients the ability to use the pharmacy of their choice as long as the pharmacy has a contract with a pharmacy benefit manager to provide the medication. PBMs act as middlemen between drug manufacturers and pharmacies in the distribution of medicine. Smaller, independent pharmacies have long complained about exclusivity agreements PBMs sign with larger chain pharmacies, saying they are not allowed to participate in such agreements and therefore are put at a competitive disadvantage.

In an Oct. 25 court filing, PCMA—which represents PBMs—said the Oklahoma law conflicts with the federal laws regulating retirement accounts and Medicare spending on prescription drugs, Legal Newsline reported. The group wants to rule that Oklahoma’s law is preempted by existing federal regulation.

The state law “impermissibly imposes requirements on central matters of plan management, interferes with the national uniformity of benefits, and acts with respect to Medicare Part D plans,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.