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Published September 02, 2010, 06:42 PM

Pharmacist Says Initiative Would Not Lower Prices On Prescription Drugs

North Dakota's Supreme Court is considering whether a voter initiative on pharmacy ownership will get on the November ballot.

By: Brady Mallory, WDAZ

North Dakota's Supreme Court is considering whether a voter initiative on pharmacy ownership will get on the November ballot.

The initiative's supporters say it will give North Dakotans access to cheaper prescription drugs. Local pharmacists say it would not provide lower costs to senior citizens like Stanley Byzewski.

"I got a high hernia, I got both knees out, I have heart troubles," said Byzewski at the Grand Forks Senior Citizen's Center. He said along with having those health issues, he also has medication costs.

"Some of those pills are eight dollars a piece," he said.

Byzewski and many of his friends worry about prescription costs. Supporters of the initiative to change pharmacy ownership laws say they know how to lower costs; by putting pharmacies in big retail stores in North Dakota like WalMart and Target.

Stanley: "Oh, I've bought Pills from WalMart before. You can get them cheaper," Bysewski said about some lower-costing generic medications.

"That's a gimmick. In reality you can't pay a pharmicist to do what he's supposed to do..monitor your drugs for $4," Dennis Johnson said.

Johnson of Wall's Medicine Center in Grand Forks said the voter initiative would not make for lower prices, because it is not the pharmacy that sets prices on your prescription drugs.

"We no longer determine the prices of prescriptions we sell to you. It's determined by your insurance company."

Johnson said the pharmacy ownership law in North Dakota has been around since 1963, stating a pharmacy must be 51-percent owned by a pharmacist. He said year after year, someone wants to change it.

Dennis: "It was in the North Dakota legislature last year and it was substantially upheld again. After numerous tries by big box stores who want pharmacies."

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