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Clarence F. “Rick” Olson, Published April 28 2012

Letter: Intrigue scuttles pharmacy petition

Last week, the latest effort to change North Dakota’s protectionist pharmacy ownership law died an unremarkable death.

As reported in The Forum’s (April 20) “Petition drive to change pharmacy law fizzles out” by Helmut Schmidt, the petition drive launched by North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare was suspended, citing a lack of financial support and petition signatures.

(Full disclosure: I was a volunteer for the petition drive this year. I was also a volunteer with a similar effort in 2009-10 that ended when a paperwork snafu caused that measure to be declared invalid.)

The Forum and other media outlets that have reported on the end of the pharmacy ownership law petition drive efforts haven’t shared the whole story. I was privy to quite a lot of what may be referred to as inside information.

It has been speculated around the state that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Duane Sand abandoned the pharmacy ownership law campaign to leave it flapping in the wind to focus his attention on his quest to wrestle the Senate nomination away from the state’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Rick Berg, in the June 12 primary. This speculation is false.

The campaign’s Colorado Springs, Colo.-based consultant, Patrick Davis, as well as Sand, were both forced out of the campaign organization by at least two would-be donors to the North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare effort – donors who were apparently willing to come on board with significant financial support.

I am not at liberty to disclose the names of the would-be donors. I can say the two donors in question were ready to write their checks, but with the condition that Davis and Sand be dumped. I have no knowledge if the two donors in question followed through with their contributions or not, a moot point at this juncture.

Which leads to this question: What business is it of anyone about who is or who is not involved with a campaign? I mean, why should an individual or an organization care about who the workers for a particular campaign are? All I know is it smells, and what happened is unfair to these two gentlemen.

I am hopeful that one day the requirement in state law that a pharmacy be majority-owned by a pharmacist will be repealed. Allowing much-needed competition into the marketplace should drive down prescription medication costs for all North Dakotans.

Olson, Fargo, is an occasional contributor to The Forum’s commentary and opinion pages. E-mail rickolson@cableone.net.