Rewards points for pharmacy purchases to continue in Alberta for now

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EDMONTON – Reward points for pharmacy purchases in Alberta will continue until a judicial review hearing early next year.

Grocery retailer Sobeys Inc. says a Queen’s Bench justice has granted the store’s request for a stay on a ban that was to come into effect this spring.

The Alberta College of Pharmacists announced in April that rewards points would no longer be issued for pharmacy transactions.

The college said it made the decision because pharmacists and technicians are health professionals, not simply vendors of drugs.

Sobeys argues that millions of Albertans collect rewards points such as Air Miles at pharmacies.

The store recently cited a survey that suggested a majority of consumers considered a ban unfair.

Sobeys says a petition calling on the government to reject the rewards ban is up to 38,000 signatures.

The grocery giant also points out that studies suggest loyalty programs build stronger bonds and encourage better patient adherence to prescription medication.

The college has said that the best benefit patients can receive is high-quality care

Nova-Scotia-based Sobeys is owned by Empire Co. Ltd. TSX:EMP.A). The company says it owns or franchises more than 1,500 stores in all provinces under the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and other banners.

(CHED, The Canadian Press)

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