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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read