The College of Pharmacists hasn't abandoned its plan to ban loyalty card points from B.C. pharmacies

Pharmacy loyalty point ban shelved for now

Regulators still aim to bring it back for provincial approval

A proposal to ban B.C. pharmacies from giving out loyalty points to customers for prescription drug purchases has been put on hold.

The controversial idea, which drew fire from point-collecting cardholders, is being shelved until the fall, when the College of Pharmacists of B.C. may reconsider it.

The regulatory body still wants to block pharmacies such as Shopper’s Drug Mart and Canada Safeway from awarding points to their loyalty card holders due to concern the rewards are a powerful lure that spur some customers to make poor decisions when buying medicine – harming their health or costing the system more money.

“It’s still something we’re very much moving forward with,” said spokesman Mykle Ludvigsen.

He said the college board, which decided Feb. 15 against including the points ban in a set of other bylaw changes now advancing, decided more public engagement was needed.

“We’re very aware there was a reaction to it,” Ludvigsen said.

Any adjustment of the proposal would result in a new round of public input ahead of a new vote of the pharmacists’ college board.

The health minister can then veto the change but the delay past the May provincial election means the final decision will fall to the next government. The NDP hasn’t taken a position on the issue.

The college’s rationale for the ban is some customers wait longer than they should to fill a prescription in order to get a bigger points bonus offered at a later date.

It also warned patients with third-party insurance who don’t pay out of pocket may keep refilling a prescription after they no longer need it just to collect more points.

The college calls that a drain on limited health care dollars and says drugs that are never used by the intended patient may be abused by others or diverted to the illegal drug trade.

The pharmacists’ body also objects on privacy grounds to the gathering of data as part of loyalty card programs.

The college hopes a points ban will result in patients choosing a pharmacy or pharmacist on their own merits, not inducements.

Some critics have called it a misguided attempt to prop up smaller independent pharmacies that struggle to compete against the big chains.

Similar reforms have been enacted in Ontario and Quebec. B.C. has banned point awards on Pharmacare-covered prescriptions since 2011.

Safeway and Shoppers Drug Mart have opposed the points ban on pharmaceuticals, while London Drugs supports it.

“Health is a very personal matter and it should not be driven by any kind of incentives,” said London Drugs pharmacy vice-president John Tse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Illicit dumping an expensive problem for Langley Township

Six incidents in three weeks have cost $60,000

LETTER: Quiet Langley street feels like Indy 500 track

Drivers gunning it on her street has one local resident irked

Langley rotary volunteers take to the streets to promote lottery fundraiser

Local clubs have raised $17,000 so far for 50/50 lottery

Scheduled road closures in Langley

Some projects are scheduled to begin this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read