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Beginning in July, a new Pharmacy Services Agreement will come into effect and loyalty programs will be allowed but only on the portion of the prescription paid for by the patient. Details as follows:
On July 7, 2010, the Province of BC concluded an agreement (the Pharmacy Services Agreement) with the BC Pharmacy Association and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores. This agreement sets out significant changes to the Pharmacy Participation Agreement that defines the Province’s relationship with pharmacies that submit claims to the PharmaCare program.
In recognition of these changes, the Province developed the PharmaCare Enrolment Agreement to replace existing Pharmacy Participation Agreements.
The Agreement disallows pharmacies from offering inducements to secure prescription orders, or in relation to the provision of a drug, medical supply, or service on the portion of the cost of that drug, supply or service paid for or reimbursed by the Province through PharmaCare.
The Agreement defines “inducement” as: “consideration including, but not limited to, cash, points, loyalty points, coupons, discounts, goods, rewards and similar schemes which can be redeemed for a gift or other benefit.”
Inducements to secure prescription orders were previously prohibited under the former Pharmacy Participation Agreement that defined the Province’s relationship with pharmacies that submit claims to the PharmaCare program. The Pharmacy Participation Agreement stated: “No goods or considerations beyond those approved in negotiations between the Government of British Columbia and the British Columbia Pharmacy Association shall be offered by any party to any other party as an inducement to secure prescription orders.” Notwithstanding this prohibition, pharmacies introduced various forms of inducement programs.
In response to correspondence and complaints from pharmacies and the public, the Minister of Health directed the Pharmaceutical Services Division to take action to ensure pharmacies abide by the terms set out in the Pharmacy Participation Agreement.
Under the terms of the Agreement, effective July 4, 2011, loyalty programs will be restricted to the portion of the prescription cost that is borne by the patient.
The Province’s interest is in the inequity that government funded benefits are being provided to patients and not being made available to other taxpayers, and more specifically the perception that this is occurring (i.e., government paying for a large proportion of a patient’s drug costs and the patient accumulating loyalty points as a result and receiving a free gift).
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