Calgary consumer questions pharmacy return policy after buying a ‘faulty’ medical device

A Calgary consumer is questioning why he wasn’t able to return what he says was a faulty glucose monitoring device at a local pharmacy.

John Haggerty recently went to a Shoppers Drug Mart location to get some supplies he needed to check his blood sugar following a hospital stay. He said after talking to the pharmacy representative, he was sold on a FreeStyle Libre System.

“It sounded like a great option for me,” he told Global News. “So I purchased it for about $170.”

But Haggerty said when he tried it out at home, he continuously got an error message.

“It didn’t work, unfortunately.”

He then went back to the pharmacy and tried to return the device, but said he was told — for the first time — that it was a final sale.

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“If I had known that I would not have been able to return this product I never would have purchased it,” he said.

Haggerty said he was told to contact the manufacturer directly, which he did. He said that’s when he got another surprise.

“They (Abbott) clearly stated that it was a final sale and that there is no justifiable reason for me to return the product.”

Haggerty said the company has now agreed to look at the system and determine if it is indeed faulty. If it is, he said he was told he would get an exchange.

“But that process can take a month, and I need to check my blood sugar immediately and so I had to go and purchase diabetes test strips.

“I didn’t have time to fool around. I had been in the hospital for a week, and I was now on insulin.”

Read more: Alberta retailers told to consider no-return policy amid COVID-19

Global News contacted Loblaw — which owns Shoppers Drug Mart — and was told its standard refund policy allows for returns of most products purchased at any Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix location within 30 days with a receipt.

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However, officials added specific exclusions do apply to this policy, including personal medical equipment, such as glucose monitoring devices.

It did say in this case; “It sounds like there was an issue with the device itself, and we would like the opportunity to work directly with the customer towards a resolution.”

Global News also contacted the Alberta College of Pharmacy who noted — as indicated in standard 19 of the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians — pharmacy professionals must not accept the return of a drug or a healthcare product, aid or device for reuse.

It also added, that regardless of how secure a package wrapping seems to be, “there is still a possibility that a product may have been tampered with or stored incorrectly.”

“This measure is critical to ensuring patient safety.”

The college said it is up to an individual pharmacy whether it chooses to provide a refund for these types of products, but they cannot be reused.

Read more: U.S. retailers could feel financial squeeze with extended holiday return policies

Haggerty said, again, this would not have become a big issue had he been told about Shoppers’ return policy upfront as well as the manufacturer’s policy of no refunds.

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He also questioned why pharmacies and manufacturers can’t work together to reduce the red tape for consumers when it comes to a defective product.

He added he was lucky enough to have had the money to buy the strips while he waits for the replacement device, but knows others may not be in as fortunate of a position.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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