Arlington, VA – On behalf of the 12,000 supermarket pharmacies operated by our member companies, FMI – The Food Industry Association was pleased the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case of Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association. FMI’s members both operate pharmacies and sponsor multistate healthcare plans regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). The issue before the Court concerns whether a preemption provision in the federal ERISA statute permits states to enact legislation that governs practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). In March, FMI, joined by twenty-three other retail trade associations, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a state’s ability to pass legislation governing anti-competitive or abusive practices by PBMs. 

FMI President and CEO, Leslie G. Sarasin, offered comment on today’s oral arguments: 

“It’s important the U.S. Supreme Court hears the State of Arkansas and its Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s argument to uphold 2015 Arkansas Act 900 (“Act 900”). This legislation strongly limits how PBMs can exploit their concentrated market power - which threatens patient access to pharmacies - without interfering with the uniform administration of ERISA plans. The unchecked power held by PBMs has put many supermarket pharmacy operations at risk and makes it more likely that food retailers will be forced to close their pharmacies’ doors.

“More than ever, Americans need convenient access to supermarket pharmacies and wellness services. Pharmacists are among the country’s most accessible health care providers, with close to 90% of the U.S. population living within five miles of a pharmacy. Additionally, pharmacists play an important role in increasing influenza vaccination rates across the country with more than 25% of annual influenza vaccinations administered within pharmacies and more than 50% of shingles vaccines administered by pharmacists.  Our pharmacists hope to play a key role in administering the COVID-19 vaccine when available and have been allowed to administer a wide variety of immunizations for individuals over the age of 3 through the end of the year – a practice we hope will be extended.

“Our members want to preserve convenient, affordable access to supermarket pharmacies in every community and to prevent 'pharmacy deserts' for customers. Therefore, FMI has a strong interest in preserving the ability of States to regulate abusive PBM practices.”