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

Drug use a problem at Trail hockey games, warn RCMP

Police recommend changes to Trail Memorial Centre washrooms

Montrose moves to ban pot retail

Retail, production and distribution of non-medical cannabis sales prohibited under Montrose bylaw

Castlegar, Grand Forks areas to see cleaner winter roads under new contract

YRB set to take over 10-year maintenance contract on Monday

Setting sail to fight kidney disease

Trail’s annual Kidney Walk included an opportunity to raft down the Columbia River

MP Cannings spared brunt of Ottawa tornadoes

MP Richard Cannings was spared the impact of the tornadoes that hit the Ottawa region

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read