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

Light wind sends half of Swiftsure yacht fleet back to shore early

Many racers return overnight in unusual race conditions

Leaving dog in hot car can result in $75,000 fine, prohibition from owning animals, prison

B.C. SPCA received 800 calls last year about dogs left in hot cars

Radio Host Erin Davis pens Mourning Has Broken following death of her daughter

Book by North Saanich woman gives advice to others struggling with grief

Bed Races on Beacon champs ready to defend their title

Race takes place July 7 on Beacon Avenue, raising funds for the Peninsula Youth Clinic

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

WATCH: Thousands enjoy sunshine at second annual Village Block Party

Cook Street filled with local food, music and more

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read