College of Pharmacists of BC wins appeal in incentives case
VANCOUVER – The BC Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in favour of the College of Pharmacists of BC today, which overturns the BC Supreme Court decision made in July 2015. The College’s bylaws prohibiting the provision of incentives for prescriptions or pharmacy services are now in force.
Honorable Madam Justice Newbury released her decision today, which states “The College can prohibit incentive programs … inducements from pharmacists [are] a matter of public interest and professional standards.” Read the full decision here.
College Registrar Bob Nakagawa applauded the decision. “The College considers the provision of incentives like redeemable points to be unethical, unsafe and unprofessional,” said Nakagawa. “Pharmacists are medication experts, and sometimes the right thing for them to do is not dispense a drug. A patient’s motivation to collect redeemable points may inappropriately encourage drug use and can put their health at risk.”
The College of Pharmacists of BC administers the Health Professions Act and protects public health by regulating pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and licensing the pharmacies where they practice. It is responsible for ensuring every pharmacist and pharmacy technician in BC is fully qualified and able to provide the public with safe and ethical pharmacy care.
- The College has a duty under law to protect public safety. When it feels a practice poses a threat to that safety, it is our responsibility to take action in the public interest.
- Incentives can include redeemable points, cash, gifts or other loyalty program benefits upon the filling of prescriptions or the provision of other pharmacy services.
- The College first put forth the bylaws on December 2, 2013.
- Pharmacy chains then sought a court injunction to prevent the enforcement of the bylaws.
- The injunction was denied on January 7, 2014, and a full hearing took place at the BC Supreme Court on May 13, 2014.
- The BC Supreme Court released its decision on July 25, 2014, ruling in favour of the pharmacy chains, and the College filed with the BC Court of Appeal on August 22, 2015.
- A full hearing was held in the BC Court of Appeal on December 9 and 10, 2015.
- The BC Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the College of Pharmacists of BC on January 27, 2016.
For further information please contact:
Director of Communications and Engagement
College of Pharmacists of BC