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Supreme Court Schedules Hearing on Case About States' Rights to Regulate PBMs

July 14, 2020 Pharmacy Times

The Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) has rescheduled the Rutledge v. The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) hearing for October 6, 2020.1 The initial April hearing date had been postponed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic (COVID-19).2

Rutledge v. PCMA revolves around whether states have the right to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMS). Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has petitioned the court to overturn the US Court of Appeals for the Eight District’s earlier decision to maintain Arkansas’ statute regulating PBMs’ drug reimbursement rates. In a legal brief filed in February 2020, however, Rutledge argues the statute is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.3

At least 4 pharmacy groups, The American Pharmacists Association, The Arkansas Pharmacist Association, The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and the National Community Pharmacists Association have publicly expressed their support for states’ rights to regulate PBMs.3 According to an earlier report, these 4 groups have jointly argued that unregulated PBM business practices limits access to pharmacists care and prevents the optimal use of medications.3

In April 2020, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) filed an amicus brief in support of the Eighth District’s decision.4 The brief argues that ruling in favor of Rutledge will drive up health care costs, and also will have a big effect on patients too by limiting their ability to access affordable medications, hindering health outcomes.4

The AMCP brief also argues that ruling in favor of Rutledge can lead to issues at the administrative level, and can lead to varying and possibly contradictory state laws as well.4


  1. National Community Pharmacists Association. SCOTUS Update. [email]. Sent July 14, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020.

  2. Supreme Court of the United States. Supreme Court of the United States October Term 2020. Supreme Court website. Published July 13, 2020. Accessed July 15, 2020.

  3. Coppock, K. 4 Pharmacy Groups Document Support in Supreme Court Case Seeking to Limit PBMs. Pharmacy Times. Published March 2, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020.

  4. Nessel J. AMCP Files Amicus Brief in US Supreme Court Case Challenging PBMs. Pharmacy Times. Published April 7, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2020.


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