Lawsuit of the week: Pharmacies claim B.C. government unlawfully refused enrolment in PharmaCare due to ‘personal disapproval’ of methadone treatments

A pair of pharmacies are suing assistant deputy minister Barbara Walman and the provincial government for refusing enrolment in British Columbia’s PharmaCare program due to ...
Pharmacies claim B.C. government unlawfully refused enrolment in PharmaCare due to ‘personal disapproval’ of methadone treatments

A pair of pharmacies are suing assistant deputy minister Barbara Walman and the provincial government for refusing enrolment in British Columbia’s PharmaCare program due to alleged personal disapproval of methadone treatments for drug addicts.

Surrey-based East to West Holistic Pharmacy Ltd. and North Vancouver-based West Lonsdale Pharmacy Corp. filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on May 15. The pharmacies claim they “derived regular and substantial income from PharmaCare” prior to June 2015 when new regulations went into effect. At the time, pharmacies were required to apply to the minister of health for enrolment as methadone providers after the province brought in a new regulatory scheme in November 2014.

In May 2015, Walman allegedly refused to enrol the plaintiffs in the new PharmaCare program due to a “personal animus towards the plaintiffs’ owners, directors and/or managers” and a “personal disapproval of methadone as a form of addiction treatment,” the lawsuit states.

The refusal, the plaintiffs claim, was unlawful and Walman allegedly “knew that the refusal to enrol the plaintiffs in PharmaCare for purposes alien to the [Pharmaceutical Services Act] and associated regulations was unlawful, or she acted with a reckless indifference to the legality of her actions.”

East to West Holistic Pharmacy Ltd. and West Lonsdale Pharmacy Corp. seek damages for malfeasance in public office. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the defendants had not filed a response to the lawsuit by press time.

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