Many pharmacy customers go to Safeway or Shopper's Drug Mart to collect points through loyalty programs. But the college of pharmacists wants to ban the offerings as inducements that could harm patients.

Ban sought for loyalty programs at pharmacies

College of Pharmacists says it's a health and safety issue.

  • Dec. 27, 2012 12:00 p.m.

by Wanda Chow, Black Press

For more than 30 years, Burnaby’s Corinne Bergdal has been a regular at pharmacies to fill insulin prescriptions to stay alive.

Now 42, she figures she now spends $5,000 to $6,000 a year to refill her insulin pump and buy related supplies to manage her Type 1 diabetes.

When she participated in a loyalty program, a small silver lining – if you could call it that – was she earned points that she could use to save money on other products in the store.

Now the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia is proposing to prohibit such programs, which include Air Miles at Safeway and Optimum points at Shoppers Drug Mart.

“The decision was made on the basis of what is in the interest of public health and safety,” said Mykle Ludvigsen, spokesman for the college. He noted that Ontario and Quebec also prohibit such programs and Alberta is at the same stage in its proposal to enact a ban.

Ludvigsen said the college has anecdotal reports of people making decisions about their medications, such as when to fill a prescription, based on how many loyalty points they can earn. “We do know that it happens.”

There’s also a chance that if their medications are fully covered by extended health or other plans people might fill prescriptions to get the points even if their doctor has told them they don’t need to take the drugs anymore, he said.

In such cases, the drugs might be taken by mistake or end up on the street.

“This isn’t good for anyone,” he said. “We’re taking action to prevent this from happening.”

And while medical conditions and drug purchases are kept confidential, Ludvigsen said loyalty programs still require the collection of basic information such as the amount, date and time of the purchase which they use in their marketing efforts aimed at the participating customer. That’s something the college opposes.

The public has until Dec. 28 to comment on the proposals.

Ludvigsen said based on the number of comments it has already received, the college expects to see a few thousand people to provide feedback before the deadline.

Once the feedback is reviewed, the board of the college will make its final decision in February, with the Minister of Health having the final say by May.

To comment on the proposed change, visit http://bit.ly/ZPvD0B.

 

Just Posted

Abbotsford Children’s Theatre presents Beauty and the Beast

Production on Dec. 14 and 15 at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium

Songs, Strings and Steps presents An Irish Christmas

Concerts at Gateway Church in Abbotsford on Dec. 14 and 15

Best Friends: How pets can improve the lives of Abbotsford’s homeless

Responsibility over a cat or dog makes Gary Hull take fewer risks and take better care of himself

Stars returning for Hansen Alumni All-Star Game

Basketball talent from the past battling current Hurricanes on Dec. 18

Somebody to love: Comforts and challenges as a couple on the streets

Life as a homeless couple forces ultimatums; it also brings the security of having each other’s back

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

MAP: Christmas light displays in the Lower Mainland

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read