North Dakota law helps protect local pharmacies by preventing big chains from opening stores

By Dale Wetzel, AP
Saturday, September 25, 2010

ND protects small pharmacies from big box stores

NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — Some of the nation’s largest retailers can’t open pharmacies in North Dakota because of a state law that says most drugstores must be owned by a pharmacist.

The law’s supporters say it has helped keep pharmacies in business in rural North Dakota and improved access to health care. Its opponents say the law prevents North Dakota residents from having access to national discount plans for prescription drugs.

The law has withstood challenges in court and the North Dakota Legislature, and lawmakers expect it will come up again when the Legislature meets in January.

New Rockford pharmacist Shane Wendel says his job goes well beyond selling medicine. He says pharmacists in rural towns are the most accessible health care providers.

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