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News release, September 27, 2023


Arkansas RX lawsuit heard by appeals court


Drug industry has a 'heavy burden' to prove after blocking Arkansans access to affordable pharmaceuticals, CHCA attorney tells judges


Seth Blomeley, communications and policy director, CHCA


Protecting patient access to prescription drug discounts is the state's constitutional right, federal appeals court judges were told recently.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are wrong to block that access, said attorneys for the Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA) and the Arkansas Insurance Department (AID).

Judge Billy Roy Wilson of the U.S. District Court in Little Rock in 2022 upheld Act 1103, passed by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2021. Act 1103 safeguards access to affordable drugs, especially in rural areas, and helps preserve critical funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) and hospitals.

After being rejected by the District Court, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held Sept. 20 in St. Louis.

“Indeed, PhRMA bears a heavy burden here,” Ron Connolly, attorney for CHCA, told the Eighth Circuit. “[Act 1103 includes] traditional areas within the state’s police powers to regulate health and safety [for] their citizens.”

Act 1103 was passed to shield Arkansas CHCs and other safety net health care providers from drug manufacturers’ harmful and restrictive policies. Across the country, the pharmaceutical industry has been blocking access to low-cost drugs that the providers would otherwise be entitled to purchase and dispense under a federal drug discount program known as 340B.

Arkansas was the first state to pass a state law to defend against the industry’s actions.

PhRMA maintains that states are “preempted” from passing such laws as Act 1103 because the 340B program was established by federal law.

Booth Rand, general counsel for AID, emphasized that nothing in the federal 340B law conflicts with Act 1103. “If Congress believes states should perform no function they should put it in legislation,” Rand told the judges.

Specifically, the law requires manufacturers to ship 340B drugs to community pharmacies that have been contracted by hospitals and CHCs to dispense the low-cost drugs on their behalf. These pharmacies help reach more Arkansans in need.

AID, as the state agency legally required to enforce Act 1103, is the defendant in PhRMA’s lawsuit. CHCA and Piggott Community Hospital are intervenors in the case. They are represented by the Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC firm in Washington.

CHCs in Arkansas serve more than 285,000 people each year at more than 200 locations.

For more information about CHCA, please visit:


Past News Releases

In the News
  • Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Federal judge upholds state law that requires pharmaceutical companies to provide discounted drugs, December 15, 2022
  • Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: White River hospital’s complaint contends pharmaceutical company is violating state drug-pricing law, November 24, 2022
  • 340B Report: Arkansas Health System Asks State to Enforce its 340B Contract Pharmacy Law Against Novo Nordisk, November 22, 2022
  • Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Rules for law on prescription savings get pushback, April 15, 2022
  • Arkansas Business: Drug Industry Challenges Arkansas Law, April 18, 2022
  • Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas health care group asks to intervene, says overturning lawsuit could lead to higher drug prices for patients March 29, 2022
  • Arkansas Times: Big pharma sues Arkansas over low-cost prescription program, community health centers jump into the fray, March 28, 2022
Guest Columns

​       Community Health Centers vital, June 9, 2023

  • Lanita S. White: Here For You
    Community Health Centers heed call, August 11, 2022


  • Brigitte McDonald: Preserve 340B
    Patients deserve the protection, January 10, 2022


  • Brigitte McDonald: 
    Let schools decide, Stand strong against covid-19, August 5, 2021


  • LaShannon Spencer: A bold plan 
    Start nurses’ training in high school, March 12, 2021


  • LaShannon Spencer: Care at risk
    Drugmakers threaten drug program, October 30, 2020

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