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Pharmacy Law Petition Gets Ok

CVS is the only national pharmacy chain in North Dakota.

CVS is the only national pharmacy chain in North Dakota.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved circulation of a petition to abolish the North Dakota pharmacy ownership law, which was enacted in 1963 to prevent expansion from regional and national chain pharmacies. North Dakota is the only state in the nation to have such a law. The petition must get at least 12,844 signatures in order to put it to a public vote in November 2010.

I have been a big supporter of ending this outdated and largely unfair law since even before the issue was addressed in the 2009 Legislative Assembly. It is my belief that this law is restricting the free enterprise system within our state, and protects the monopolies currently held by our pharmacies. I am 100% convinced that if the law goes to a public vote, it will be abolished.

CVS/pharmacy and Thrifty White are the only regional and national chains in North Dakota, both grandfathered in at the time the law was enacted (CVS as Osco Drug). Despite that some Thrifty Whites are franchised, the majority of its stores are corporate-owned. CVS is a shareholder-owned corporation and Thrifty White is employee-owned, which would normally dismiss either from operating within the state.

CVS and Thrifty White both have very separate opinions on what the outcome should be to this law. Last February, Thrifty White was the center of some controversy for an email sent by one of its executives to each store stating annual raises would be congruent with their efforts to support the law.

“For those of you who have failed so miserably in this cause, reward will be based upon cooperation and performance.” -Thrifty White Executive.

On the other hand, CVS, which currently operates six stores in North Dakota, is interested in seeing the law abolished, with hopes to expand its presence within the state. CVS’s two largest national competitors, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, have been the biggest corporate sponsors to abolish the law, indicating that CVS isn’t afraid of some healthy competition.

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