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North Dakotans say ‘no’ to pharmacy measure

FARGO — In incomplete and unofficial returns Tuesday night, North Dakota voters said “no” — in a big way — to initiated Measure 7, which aimed to change the state’s pharmacy ownership law.

With 401 of 427 precincts reporting, the “no” vote totaled 59 percent, while the “yes” vote was at 41 percent.

The goal of Measure 7 was the undoing of a law that has been in place since the early 1960s that requires that any pharmacy in the state be majority owned by a licensed pharmacist.

Official results of the ballot initiative were unavailable at press time Tuesday, the “no” votes totaled 138,999, while the “yes” votes totaled 96,143.

Measure 7 was put on the ballot after petitions bearing more than 22,000 signatures were certified by the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office.

Backers of the measure included a group called North Dakotans for Lower Pharmacy Prices, which argued that changing the law would lead to greater competition and lower prescription drug prices.

Opposition to the measure was led by the North Dakota Pharmacists Association, which warned that changing the law would result in the closing of many independent pharmacies, which the association said, would lead to less competition and higher drug prices for consumers.

Mike Schwab, executive vice president of the pharmacist association, said Tuesday’s vote was gratifying.

“We’re pretty humbled, and we appreciate everybody who supported us,” Schwab said.

“This issue has been defeated legally, legislatively, and now the public has spoken and voted on this issue.

“We truly mean it when we say thank you to the citizens of North Dakota,” Schwab added.

Amanda Godfread, a spokeswoman for North Dakotans for Lower Pharmacy Prices, said she was disappointed with the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, but she said she was grateful for the efforts of those who worked to get the measure on the ballot and for the support it received Tuesday.

Given the votes the measure received, Godfread said she is hopeful for two things: that existing pharmacies recognize that thousands of patients in North Dakota have unmet needs and that pharmacies will “find ways to expand their services and lower their prices so that more needs can be met.”

Dave Olson
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