Bid to end Rx ownership restriction snags on a technicality in North Dakota
BISMARCK, N.D. A bid to overturn North Dakota’s restrictive pharmacy-ownership law suffered a major setback late last week when a high state official rejected thousands of signatures gathered in an arduous, months-long petition drive.
The state is the last in the nation to require that most retail pharmacies operating within its boundaries be majority-owned by a licensed pharmacist. The law, which is similar to restrictions imposed on pharmacies in Canada, effectively prohibits such national-chain competitors as Walgreens, Target and Walmart from selling prescriptions in the state or from offering nationally advertised discounts to North Dakota consumers.
The ownership law has been on the books since the early 1960s, and pharmacy chains have long fought to overturn the restriction via legislation. Some chains, including Walmart, operate a few stores by leasing them to local pharmacists. A handful of others in existence before the ownership law took effect in 1963 also continue to operate under a grandfather clause, but nearly 90% of the drug stores operating in North Dakota are owned by independents, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, versus a national independent ownership share of roughly 30%.
The state legislature defeated a move last year to repeal the ban on nonpharmacist ownership, prompting a chain pharmacy-backed group called North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drug Prices to redouble its efforts to end the restriction through a statewide petition drive.
That campaign was successful in gathering the minimum 12,844 signatures from state voters on a petition to get the issue on a statewide ballot this November. But the petition drive stalled at the finish line last week, when Secretary of State Al Jaeger rejected the petitions over a technicality. The petitions, he ruled, were invalid because they didn’t include lists of the 25 backers sponsoring the ballot measure, according to the Associated Press.
Each copy of the petition needed a list of those sponsors to be valid, according to state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, AP reported. At press time, advocates were said to be scrambling to salvage the petition campaign, but they only have until Aug. 25 to correct the deficiency, according to the report.
PositiveID files patent for Insulin Tracker
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. A company that develops healthcare and information management products has applied for a patent for an insulin-pen tracking and recording device.
PositiveID announced Monday that it had filed for a patent for the Insulin Tracker with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The device slides onto insulin pens and allows diabetes patients to track and record the amount of insulin they inject, including the time and date of each injection, transmitting it to PositiveID’s iGlucose System database and allowing patients and their healthcare providers to monitor compliance.
“Due to the cumbersome nature of manually recording blood glucose levels, insulin dosages and the appropriate dates and times for each, many patients’ diabetes logs are incomplete or even nonexistent, which directly impacts patient compliance,” PositiveID chairman and CEO Scott Silverman said.
Milwaukee Health Services taps new corporate communications specialist
MILWAUKEE, Wis. Milwaukee Health Services, which owns and operates a retail-based convenient care clinic here, has hired Clarene Mitchell as corporate communications specialist.
In her new role, Mitchell’s duties will include advancing the organization’s public image, facilitating business and government partnerships, fundraising strategy efforts and special projects.
An initial area of concentration will focus on increasing the public image and utilization of MHSI’s Convenient Care Clinic that operates in the Midtown Piggly Wiggly supermarket. MHSI opened the clinic in October 2009 in partnership with Managed Health Services. The clinic, which is owned and operated by MHSI, was the first retail based clinic to be opened by a Federally Qualified Health Center on a national basis, the company stated.
Mitchell most recently worked with VITAS Innovative Hospice Care. Her professional history includes managing programs and public relations interests for Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. Prior to that she was a health communications officer for the Milwaukee Health Department, the health and education liaison for Mayor John O. Norquist, in addition to other roles with such organizations as Sojourner Truth House, American Lung Association, Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood Development and the Milwaukee Urban League.