Attorney General Tim Fox has joined a bipartisan coalition to advocate for states' rights to regulate pharmaceutical costs. Fox spoke to KGVO News about his office’s involvement in the US Supreme Court case of Rutledge v. Pharma Care Management.

“Our office joined a bipartisan coalition of about 45 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court in support of an Arkansas law that regulates pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs),” Fox told KGVO.

“[These companies] are a middle man, if you will—they negotiate with the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, with insurance companies, and with the pharmacies themselves to come up with prices. They get paid for their services, and oftentimes, if they abuse these services, the price of pharmaceuticals can go up needlessly.”

The Arkansas law, passed in 2015, regulated the reimbursement rates that PBMs paid to pharmacies. However, the law was challenged by a PBM trade association, and a lower court determined the law invalid.

“The argument was that the federal government preempts state law and that the states can’t regulate PBMs. I think this is not only an error in their logic, but is something that is important to Montanans,” Fox stated. “If the legislature here wanted to regulate PBMs, they should be able to do it.”

The state of Arkansas, along with the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, is now requesting the Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling.

A news release from the Montana Department of Justice writes that PBMs often have the power to manipulate market prices as they interact between manufacturers, pharmacies, and consumers. The release argues that taking away states' rights to regulated PBMs would harm the market as well as consumers. Almost every state in the country has passed laws to regulate PBMs.

To read more about Montana’s involvement in the case of Rutledge v. Pharma Care Management, access the MT DOJ news release here.