A locally owned pharmacists’ take on Measure #7

Lyle Lutman, owner and head phamacist of Langdon Community Drug, gave a presentation on how Measure 7 will affect rural communities such as Langdon at the Langdon Area Chamber of Commerce general membership meeting on October 6. 


Posted on 10/11/14

By Melissa Anderson

Lutman feels very strongly about this issue and not just because he is a pharmacist.

“The measure needs to be voted  “No” because  it will jeopardize health care in rural areas as it will force local pharmacies to close” Lutman said.

The North Dakota’s law concerning pharmacies was enacted in 1963. The law basically states that at least 51 percent of any pharmacy in North Dakota must be owned by a licensed pharmacist.

Lutman notes that if a big box store wanted a pharmacy in their stores, they can so long as 51 percent of the pharmacy is owned by a North Dakota licensed pharmacist.

“It’s about volume” Lutman said.

This issue has been raised. Previous attempts include the first ballot initiative proposed in 2009, but a judge rejected the sponsoring group’s signatures due to the absence of the names and addresses of sponsoring committee members alongside the signature petitions.

State legislators in 2011 proposed to amend the state’s pharmacy ownership laws. However, the North Dakota House defeated the measure by over 70 percent. Later that same year the initiative was proposed for a second time. The second attempt was filed by Duane Sand (R), but did not make the ballot.

Lutman pointed out these facts and cited many other reasons why citizens should vote “No”.

The first reason is that the advertisements currently saying that once bigger companies can  have company owned pharmacies, prescriptions will be cheaper as a result of competition are not true.

“Your co-pay is going to be the same no matter where you go” Lutman stated.

“The very companies that want in are the same companies that we do contracts with. Once they get in here, they may not renew their contracts, which is not competition but a takeover” Lutman continued.

The studies these outside sources are using to promote the idea that once a bigger company can have a pharmacy in their store will help lower prices are also based on false or misleading information.

The “Kaiser Study”, which is  the is most commonly cited study used in the advertisements that are for Measure 7 is not technically even a Kaiser Study or anything that was  commissioned by the Kaiser Family Study.

The data that was collected and being used in the advertisements for Measure 7 are actually not even related to actual prescription drug costs. The prices that are being used to show higher prescription drug costs are for over-the-counter cough medicine, allergy medicine, analgesics. Also included are products such as wheelchairs, canes, etc. that most small pharmacies won’t normally carry.

“Studies that the bigger companies conducted themselves show that the average cost of prescriptions in ND are 12 percent less than the national average” Lutman said.

According to Reuters, which conducted a random survey of the state’s independent pharmacies and compared their prices to a big box store in Bismarck. A 30-day supply of a generic blood thinner ranged in price between $10 to $59.95 at independent pharmacies. The same drug at the same dosage cost $149.95 at the big box store.

“Right now, your pharmacy is controlled by a pharmacist. If this passes, anybody can open a pharmacy. What would you rather have, a pharmacist supervising your prescriptions, or some corporate office in another state?” Lutman said

For more information Lutman recommends: