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Attorney General Josh Stein Fights for States’ Rights to Address Prescription Drug Costs

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court supporting states’ rights to regulate and address the rising cost of prescription drugs. Attorney General Stein and a bipartisan coalition of 46 attorneys general are arguing that regulation of the prescription drug market, including pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), is a critical tool for states to protect residents and increase access to and affordability of prescription drugs.

“As Attorney General, I fight to protect North Carolinians’ access to life-saving health care,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “If the court decides to take away the ability of states to work for affordable prescription drug costs, it will cause real harm to sick Americans who need these drugs. I will continue doing all I can for affordable, accessible health care for the people of North Carolina.”

PBMs act as middlemen between pharmacies, drug manufacturers, health insurance plans, and consumers. Their position gives them some power to influence the market as they develop and maintain prescription drug formularies (lists of medications that are covered by health plans), contract with pharmacies, negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers, and process and pay prescription drug claims.

In Monday’s filing, the coalition of attorneys general argue that state laws regulating pharmacy benefit managers are not restricted by federal law. Regulation is critical to the states’ ability to improve the transparency of prescription drug marketplaces and to protect consumers’ access to affordable prescription drugs, especially those in underserved, rural, and isolated communities. To date, nearly every state has enacted laws that regulate PBMs in some way, including 44 new or amended laws in the last five years. In addition, the attorneys general assert that the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers promotes health care access and affordability. Taking away a state’s ability to protect consumers would create confusion and uncertainty in the market and harm patients.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing this brief by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief is available here.

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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