COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the importance of access to quality care. As an independent pharmacist, I hear from my patients regularly what it means to have access to our services and care - right in their own backyard. During this pandemic, community pharmacies are providing meaningful health care, vaccinations, and the everyday medications that our patients need. We are an important part of the health care system, and I hope that this session, our state lawmakers and Governor Walz will stand up for community pharmacists and our patients by supporting common sense health care reform.

Many patients, especially in rural communities, are forced to use unreliable mail order services or drive many miles to out-of-town drugstores to get their medication instead of being able to get it at their hometown pharmacy. This limits community access to care for patients, because of unfair monopolies and patient steering policies put in place by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Just three PBMs control more than 80 percent of the market, creating a near monopoly on the system. PBMs are making it anti-competitive for independent pharmacies to keep their doors open and drive up the cost of your prescriptions, lining their own pockets along the way.

As a pharmacist and advocate for my patients, it is hard to see so many patients struggle with rising drug costs. Our legislators have a chance to help address this issue and bring transparency to prescription drug pricing at the Capitol this year. The Pharmacy Fair Competition Act will help shine a light on PBM practices and protect our local community pharmacy care.

Here in rural Minnesota, too many of us face limited or unequal access to health care. Supporting reform at the Capitol means our legislators will be putting patients first - and not healthcare middlemen who make big bucks on your prescription drugs. Please call your legislator and ask them to pass the Pharmacy Fair Competition Act.

Amanda Schuttemeier, 

Manager, Sterling Pharmacy

Spring Grove, Minn.

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