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Smaller pharmacies defend B.C. ban on loyalty programs

12/10/2013 10:13 EST | Updated 02/09/2014 05:59 EST
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.

"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 Columbians. Sobeys 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.

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