North Dakota state House to hear pharmacy ownership billBISMARCK — A bill that would allow chain retailers like Wal-mart and Target to open pharmacies in the state is up for debate on Tuesday. House Bill 1434 deletes wording in North Dakota law that requires pharmacies to be majority-owned by pharmacists licensed in the state.
BISMARCK — A bill that would allow chain retailers like Wal-mart and Target to open pharmacies in the state is up for debate on Tuesday.
House Bill 1434 deletes wording in North Dakota law that requires pharmacies to be majority-owned by pharmacists licensed in the state.
The bill hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. CST in the Brynhild Haugland Room in the state Capitol.
Bill sponsor Rep. Thomas Beadle, R-Fargo, called the legislation “a consumer bill, saying competition is good for prices and provides more options.”
Brad Morrison of Market Pharmacy in Minot, however, wants to keep the current law as is.
“It’s my feeling that the patient care is improved when the owner/manager has a pharmacist’s perspective,” he said.
Bob Treitline, pharmacist and owner of ND Pharmacy in Dickinson, agreed and said the benefits of this bill do not outweigh the risks.
Treitline added he is concerned that if the bill passes consumer access and the close pharmacist-to-pharmacist and consumer-pharmacist relationship many people have come accustomed to in North Dakota may be lost.
“In North Dakota we are known for our friendliness and service — we help each other out,” Treitline said. “I think small pharmacies are more personal — we know our patients — they are not just consumers. I also think local pharmacies are more accommodating in meeting their consumers’ needs.”
Treitline also said the passage of this bill would have a negative affect on the economy. He worries about losing local pharmacies, which in turn means the loss of competition, jobs and revenue.
Treitline added it’s almost a necessity to have pharmacies in rural areas because of the distance people have to travel for medical care and medications.
The pharmacy ownership issue came up during the 2009 Legislature and failed to make it onto the 2010 ballot due to a flaw in the way petitions were circulated. North Dakota is the only state in the nation with this law.
Beadle said he isn’t pushing the bill on behalf of big business. He said he’s doing it for the more than 40 constituents who asked him when he was campaigning to change the pharmacy law.
“This is purely a consumer-driven initiative this time around because they recognize the need for it,” Beadle said.
Supporters and opponents won’t have to wait long to see how the House responds to the bill. All bills must go to a floor vote within the next two weeks.
Press reporter Lisa Miller contributed to this report.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.