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Federal Judge Upholds Bulk of Patient's Right to Pharmacy Choice Act

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor applauds the decision by a federal district judge to uphold most of Oklahoma’s Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act. Passed by the Legislature in 2019, this consumer protection Act protects Oklahomans’ access to pharmacy providers. The Act also protects Oklahoma pharmacies from certain self-dealing and self-serving practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that can harm consumers and put rural and independent pharmacies out of business.

The Act was challenged by a PBM trade association as being preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), as well as Medicare Part D. Yesterday, Judge Bernard M. Jones in the Western District of Oklahoma largely disagreed, ruling definitively in favor of Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready and the Insurance Department on all of the ERISA claims and several of the Medicare Part D claims. The Attorney General’s Office has defended the Act in court, representing the Insurance Department.  

“This is an important victory for all  Oklahomans, because we all buy prescription drugs when we need them. This law enacts commonsense legal protections against abuses in the pharmaceutical industry—the costs of which are far too often borne by patients and community pharmacies,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “I am proud of the legislature, Governor Stitt, and Insurance Commissioner Mulready for protecting Oklahoma consumers and my team for working vigorously to defend this Act. We look forward to continuing that defense if this case is appealed.”

The district court’s decision largely tracks its own preliminary injunction ruling issued in July 2020, a decision that allowed the Insurance Department to begin enforcing the Act in Oklahoma in most instances. Since that decision was issued, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld an Arkansas law regulating PBMs against an ERISA preemption challenge in Rutledge v. PCMA, 141 S. Ct. 474 (2020). 

To read the district court’s opinion, click . To read the Attorney General’s briefs requesting summary judgment, click and .