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Alberta College of Pharmacists wins appeal, inducement ban to be reinstated

September 22, 2017

Edmonton, September 22, 2017 – The Alberta Court of Appeal has ruled the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) is within its mandate to ban pharmacies from offering inducements in exchange for the provision of a prescribed drug, Schedule 2 drugs, or professional services. Schedule 2 drugs are those drugs available for sale only at pharmacies and only provided after consultation with a pharmacist.

The Court of Appeal overturned a Court of Queen’s Bench ruling from April 2016 that prevented ACP from enforcing the ban, which was first introduced in 2014. The ban prevents pharmacies from offering loyalty programs, reward points, or other incentives to individuals on the condition that they purchase the products and services mentioned above.

“Why we’ve been so passionate about this issue is that the sorts of inducements offered by community pharmacies started to change,” said Greg Eberhart, ACP’s Registrar. “They began to involve bonuses, or more rewards points on specific days, or benefits if a patient changed pharmacists, all of which had potential to disrupt professional relationships and affect decisions important to care.”

What’s most important to pharmacy professionals, Eberhart said, is the health of the individuals they serve, their families, and their communities. The best relationships between pharmacists and individuals are built over time, based on good practices and great personal experiences.

“Pharmacists are responsible for more than dispensing and selling drugs,” he said. “In Alberta, pharmacists have what is among the broadest scopes of practice anywhere in the world. They have the ability to assess and adapt prescriptions, prescribe medications, create care plans, and administer vaccines by injection. All pharmacists have the responsibility to be in the moment and be objective when exercising critical thinking with every decision they make about the health of those they serve.”

Eberhart stressed that ACP has a responsibility to ensure its members help the public use drugs properly, not just because of the impact drugs may have on individuals’ health but because the college shares the responsibility to ensure health resources are used properly.

The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision supports ACP Council’s amendments to the college’s Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, its Standards of Practice for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies, and its Code of Ethics. These policies are consistent with those in other jurisdictions and professions, such as medicine.

ACP’s policy on inducements will take effect immediately.

For more information, please contact:

Barry Strader
Communications Director
Alberta College of Pharmacists