North Dakota will remain the only state in the country with a law that prevents big-box retailers from providing prescription medicines to consumers.

As of press time, Measure 7 was failing by 59.3 percent of the vote with 367 precincts reporting. The Associated Press declared the measure defeated.

If enacted, Measure 7 would have eliminated a state law requiring that the majority ownership of pharmacies in North Dakota must be held by a registered pharmacist.

In 2010, an identical measure failed to make the ballot when the sponsoring committee made a mistake in filing petitions.

“I would hope the people of North Dakota have spoken,” said North Dakota Pharmacists Association President Steve Boehning. “It’s been defeated legally and legislatively and now by the public.”

Boehning thanked all the supporters who worked to defeat the measure.

“I’d also like to thank the people of North Dakota who took time to educate themselves on the measure,” he said.

Boehning worried earlier that the vote would be close but said if rural voters came out, the measure’s chance of passing would be less.

Supporter of the measure, North Dakotans for Lower Pharmacy Prices spokesman Amanda Godfread, said the most important elements of Measure 7 are improving prices and options for consumers.

Godfread said if the measure officially fails, the campaign does not have a next step. She thanked the supporters and volunteers.

“Beyond that we are disappointed in the results,” she said.

Godfread said the campaign hopes the existing pharmacies realize there are unmet needs in the state and hopes those pharmacies find a way to expand their services and lower prices.

Boehning said North Dakota’s pharmacists would continue to provide the best access to medications possible. He said Measure 7 is unnecessary, noting that the state has some of the cheapest prescription prices in the country.

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Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com.