Supreme Court of Canada Dismisses Sobeys Appeal to Challenge College Incentive Bylaws

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Supreme Court of Canada Dismisses SOBEYs Appeal to Challenge College Incentive Bylaws

VANCOUVER - Today, the Supreme Court of Canada declined Sobeys request to appeal the College of Pharmacists of BC's bylaws which prohibit incentives for prescriptions and/or pharmacy services. This means that pharmacies cannot offer incentives for prescription medication or pharmacy services, which has been the case since January 2016.

The College bylaws, which originally came into force in December 2013, were successfully challenged by Sobeys in the BC Supreme Court in July 2014. The College filed with the BC Court of Appeal, and in January 2016, was successful in having the earlier decision overturned. Sobeys submitted a file to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada on March 24, 2016. On July 7, 2016, that request was dismissed with costs. 

“The College considers the provision of incentives like redeemable points to be unethical, unsafe and unprofessional,” said College Registrar Bob 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. 

For more information on the College's incentives bylaws, please visit the College website.



  • 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.
  • Sobeys 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 Sobeys. 
  • 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.
  • Sobeys submitted a file to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada on March 24, 2016.
  • The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the file to appeal on July 7, 2016; the College's bylaws that prohibit incentives stand. 

For further information please contact:

Gillian Vrooman
Director of Communications and Engagement  
College of Pharmacists of BC
[email protected]   

Jul 07, 2016