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

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

ELECTION: Langley Township council candidate Michael Pratt

A Voter’s Guide to key election questions.

VIDEO: Fire crew mopping up workshop fire near Golden Ears Bridge

Structure fire at 208 and 102B sending plumes of black smoke into air above Walnut Grove

Two Giants picked to play against Russia

Two of Langley’s junior hockey players will be part of the six-game Canada Russia Series next month.

Police want to talk to two pedestrians who might have witnessed shooting

Nobody injured in Sept. 18 shooting on Flagman Street in Abbotsford

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

MCFD, FPSSS restricts caregivers from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care

Ministry restricts cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Most Read