February 5, 2009

House Committe debates bill 1440 allowing corporate ownership of pharmacies

Since 1963 North Dakota has had a law that allowed only pharmacists to operate pharmacies. Now House Bill 1440 seeks to change that.

According to two local pharmacists the old law has benefited citizens of the area.

"The law established in 1963 was really forward thinking on the part of the people who got that done," Beulah Drug owner Dave Just said. " The purpose was to strengthen the position of independent pharmacies in the state."

Just thinks keeping local pharmacies strong and healthy is also a benefit to the citizens of the state.

"What I see is this, North Dakota is a special circumstance. We have what, 640,000 people in our state? That’s less than half of the people in Minneapolis alone," Just said. "We have a lot of rural population, and I think that rural population is going to be devastated by another pharmacy in a (big chain store)."

Pharmacies are also key in the safety and effectiveness of the medications they dispense, Mike Chase, owner of Hazen Drug said.

"We are still kind of the gatekeepers as far as understanding medication and making sure our patients get the right medication," he said. " Our greatest fear, I think, is that the ability of the pharmacist to play a major role with the physician and other health practitioners

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