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Smaller pharmacies defend B.C. ban on loyalty programs

Lawyers for Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods were in the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday to challenge a new ban on tying prescriptions to customer incentives. But for some smaller pharmacies, the move by the B.C. College of Pharmacists is a positive one.

David-versus-Goliath battle takes shape in B.C. Supreme Court over tying rewards to prescriptions

Safeway, Thrifty want to offer loyalty points for prescriptions 2:06

Lawyers for Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods appeared before the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday to challenge a new ban on tying prescriptions to customer incentives.

But for some smaller pharmacies, the move by the B.C. College of Pharmacists is a positive one.

Shafik Rajani, the owner of nine Wescana Pharmacy stores, was in court to observe the proceedings. He says his bigger competitors are using points programs to clobber him.

Lawyers for Sobeys, the company that owns Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods, want to overturn a ban preventing stores from tying the provision of medicine to rewards, including money and loyalty schemes. (CBC)
"It's a battle of David and Goliath, and unfortunately in this case, Goliath is winning,” he said Tuesday.

Rajani said he supports the college’s new rules, which he said will stop customers from hoarding unnecessary prescriptions in pursuit of loyalty points.

“Medicine is not something that you get on a deal," he said.

Sobeys lawyer Peter Gall, meanwhile, argues that the new rules are anti-competitive and not in the interest of British ColumbiansSobeys owns Canada Safeway and Thrifty Foods.

“The public is in favour of price competition, discounts, loyalty programs — anything that saves them money," said Gall.

Arguments have been adjourned to next Friday to give the college time to prepare its arguments.

With files from Jason Proctor

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