No more reward points for B.C. pharmacy customers, courts rule
Loyalty point collectors of British Columbia, be warned: the days of collecting reward points when you fill a prescription have come to an end.
The decision came Wednesday, when the BC Court of Appeal overturned a previous ruling that allowed pharmacists to issue loyalty points for customers.
The College of Pharmacists of BC had long been fighting to prevent companies like Sobeys, which owns Canada Safeway, and Shoppers Drug Mart from issuing loyalty points for pharmacy purchases. They believe offering rewards like Air Miles and Optimum points can encourage improper use - and even put people’s lives at risk.
“It was inappropriate, it was unethical, unprofessional and unsafe for the pharmacists to be participating in these programs,” said Bob Nakagawa, registrar of the college.
For example, Nakagawa says the College heard patients with serious medical conditions were waiting for bonus days to fill their prescriptions, or asking for refills just to get more rewards.
Only pharmacies and patients in B.C. will be affected at this time.
Not everyone celebrated the court’s decision; Shoppers Drug Mart told CTV News the ruling was “disappointing.”
“We are disappointed with the judgment, and we remain committed to our position that loyalty programs encourage positive health behaviors,” said Lana Gogas, communications manager of Shoppers Drug Mart.
“Evidence published in the British Medical Journal indicates that incentives have a potential to encourage positive health behaviours… patients value the benefit they receive from programs like ours.”
The ruling applies to all incentives – stores are not permitted to offer cash or coupons for prescriptions, although customers will be allowed to keep the points they’ve already collected. .
With files from CTV Vancouver’s St. John Alexander