A ban on getting loyalty reward points on prescription drug purchases remains in effect – so far – after a failed attempt by Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods to secure a court injunction.

Pharmacy points ban survives first court challenge

Full hearing scheduled to decide if drug loyalty rewards prohibition will continue

A newly imposed ban on issuing loyalty reward points on prescription drug purchases has survived the first stage of a court challenge launched by major pharmacy chains.

Sobeys West Inc. and Jace Holdings Ltd. – parent firms of Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods – had sought an interim court injunction suspending the ban but that was rejected last week by B.C. Supreme Court.

A full hearing of the College of Pharmacists of B.C. bylaw prohibiting loyalty programs on pharmaceuticals begins Jan. 31.

The two firms argued in part that the bylaw banning points issuance effective Dec. 2 was pushed through by smaller pharmacies that struggle to compete against the loyalty offers of big chains.

The college has said loyalty incentives are inappropriate “kickbacks” that could unduly influence customer purchasing behaviour.

The companies argued there was no evidence and only speculation that reward points might be a threat to the health of vulnerable patients.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson rejected Canada Safeway’s claim it would suffer “irreparable harm” due to loss of revenue and customers to competitors if the loyalty points ban was allowed to remain in place pending the hearing.

The court did not accept the big pharmacies’ claim that loyalty programs pose no threat.

“The fact that there has been no documented harm to the public from customer loyalty programs to date does not mean that the risk of harm is non-existent,” Hinkson ruled.

The college has suggested some patients might go without medicine in order to wait and refill a prescription on a day when a special points bonus is offered.

Hinkson said the pharmacy chains appear to have answered that concern by pledging not to offer unusual loyalty point bonuses on particular days.

Canada Safeway has also lodged a complaint about the loyalty rewards ban with the federal Competition Bureau.

Just Posted

Capture the Rain: Underground cistern helps rural couple expand gardens

Sandy McPherson and Alan Philip are continually working towards low-impact living.

Column T.W. Paterson: Even belated recognition is better than none

According to U.S. Army records, Chips was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross

Shawnigan Lake man faces extradition

Anthony Michael Kubica appears in Vancouver courtroom

Enjoy ‘An Afternoon of Music’ with the Duncan Choral Society

The choir and their guests are ready to whisk your winter blues away

VIDEO: Jamboree Day a great success at Cowichan Lake arena

Lake Cowichan minor hockey, and its friends, families, and supporters are out in force for jamboree

Plan your Hometown Hockey weekend

Find your favourites on the Hometown Hockey schedule

Hometown Hockey: Cowichan Capitals events

On Jan. 20 there will be special features during the game for Hometown Hockey

Coming up in Cowichan: Rain workshop, Joseph Mairs Memorial, timely film

Participants are encouraged to bring their roof dimensions

Wind warning back in effect around Vancouver Island

80 km/h winds expected Saturday, Jan. 20, on east coast of Island, 100 km/h on west coast

VIDEO: Jamboree Day a great success at Cowichan Lake arena

Lake Cowichan minor hockey, and its friends, families, and supporters are out in force for jamboree

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Most Read