Pharmacy measure sponsors submit about 24,000 signatures
BISMARCK — Sponsors of a proposed change to North Dakota law that would allow national retailers such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens to operate pharmacies in the state turned in more than 10,000 extra signatures Friday to try to put the measure to voters.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger said the sponsors delivered petitions containing about 23,961 signatures. At least 13,452 signatures of qualified voters are needed to get the measure on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot.
Jaeger has until Aug. 22 to determine whether the signatures are sufficient.
The measure would amend state law to remove the requirement that pharmacies be operated by a licensed pharmacist, a business controlled by licensed pharmacists, or a hospital pharmacy or postgraduate medical residency training program.
North Dakota is the only state that requires pharmacies to be majority-owned by pharmacists who are licensed in the state.
In a news release Friday, supporters of the measure cited the number of signatures gathered well ahead of the Aug. 6 deadline as evidence that North Dakotans “strongly support” changing the state’s outdated pharmacy law, which they claim has limited pharmacy ownership to a chosen few and resulted in higher prescription drug costs for residents.
The North Dakota Pharmacists Association supports the existing law, arguing it results in better access to pharmaceutical care especially in rural areas — and hasn’t contributed to higher prescription drug prices.