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Letters: Consumer choice is aim of measure

As a longtime North Dakota resident, I need to respond to Andrine Evers’ recent letter to the editor (“Preserve state’s local pharmacies,” Aug 7). There is misinformation that must be cleared up.

North Dakota voters have already given strong support to this issue. More than 23,000 people signed the petition that was submitted to the secretary of state in July. The petition only needed about 12,000 signatures, so it’s clear the issue resonates.

Evers wrote that North Dakotans have some of the lowest drug prices in the country. However, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, as North Dakotans we pay more for prescriptions drugs than people in neighboring states. One of the reasons is that North Dakotans don’t have access in-state to the hundreds of $4 prescriptions that are offered at retailers like Walmart and Walgreens. This is particularly important for senior citizens, who might be on a fixed budget and dealing with increased rent or other costs.

Finally, she states that the measure could cause independent pharmacies to close and we would lose millions in economic benefits. If that were true, why is it that it works just fine in 49 other states? North Dakota is the only state that limits pharmacy ownership. All this law change would do is allow corporately-owned pharmacies to operate in North Dakota. Privately-owned pharmacies can and will continue operating just as they always have.

While it may be easy on the surface to say big chain stores are a problem, the reality of it is that competition creates more options and lower prices for consumers. Plain and simple, North Dakota’s population is growing and we need more pharmacies.