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U.S. Supreme Court Reveals Rutledge’s PBM Argument Date

Rutledge says, ‘one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the U. S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager case on April 27 in Washington, D.C. The case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), will focus on the State’s ability to protect Arkansas small businesses in rural areas and save community pharmacies from abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) payment practices.

“We are now one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices by holding PBMs accountable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Nationwide, rural pharmacies are faced with unfair business practices by PBMs that harm consumers and our communities. It’s time states like Arkansas had the power to protect themselves and ensure Arkansans are able to receive necessary medications.”

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to blocked enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2017 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling

Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.

On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court granted Rutledge’s petition. The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.

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