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Drug Funding

This page provides information about oncology drug coverage in BC.  The source of funding for oncology medications in BC depends on what they are being used for; they may be used to actively treat cancer or for supportive care purposes.

Go to Reimbursement & Forms 

Active Cancer Treatment

Certain medications for active cancer treatment are funded by the BC Cancer Agency for all BC MSP patients (including NIHB clients). These medications are supplied at no charge to registered BC cancer patients by any of the BC Cancer Agency Pharmacies [Contact Info.] and Communities Oncology Network (CON) Hospital Pharmacies.  

To determine whether a drug is covered by the BC Cancer Agency, please refer to the Benefit Drug List [Reimbursement & Forms].  This document lists the drugs funded, their approved indications, and any required paperwork. The document is updated on a regular basis, so it is recommended that it be accessed from the website for referral, as opposed to printed off and stored as a hard copy.  For drug treatments classified as Restricted, or not on the Benefit List, please refer to Policy III-45 Compassionate Access Program [Policies & Procedures] to see how to apply for case-by-case approval.  See the Other sources of drug funding section below for additional active cancer treatment funding sources.

Be aware that some drugs used for active treatment of cancer can also be used for supportive care purposes. For example, dexamethasone can be used for cancer treatment (e.g. multiple myeloma), spinal cord compression, or nausea and vomiting; megestrol can be used for cancer treatment (e.g. advanced breast cancer) or appetite stimulation. If used in supportive care, the prescription should be filled at a retail pharmacy as outlined in the Supportive Care Medications section below.

Supportive Care Medications

Supportive care medications, such as antiemetics, antibiotics, and analgesics, are NOT covered by the BC Cancer Agency. These medications are supplied by retail pharmacies.  See the Other sources of drug funding section below for possible sources of funding for these medications. See the Filgrastim and Low Molecular Weight Heparin FAQs for information about funding issues specific to these medications.
 

Pharmacare

PharmaCare may pay some or all of the drug cost of a supportive care medication if it is covered on the PharmaCare formulary. See the Fair PharmaCare Plan and the BC PharmaCare Formulary Search web pages for information about this program. 

Private Drug Plans

Patients may also have private drug plans that cover some or all of medication costs. 

BC Palliative Care Benefits Program

The BC Palliative Care Benefits Program is administered through the Fair Pharmacare Program. This program supports and enables individuals in the end-stage of any life-threatening illness or disease to remain at home by covering the cost of medication, medical supplies and equipment at no charge to the patient. Please see the BC Palliative Care Benefits Program for: 
  • a physician guide (including the palliative care formulary)  
  • patient information sheet  
  • BC Palliative Care Benefits Program application form

Financial Support Drug Program

The Financial Support Drug Program is a joint partnership between the BC Cancer Agency and the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), BC and Yukon division.  This program was established to assist cancer patients with the cost of supportive care medications. The CCS determines the patient’s financial eligibility. The BC Cancer Agency provides funding and identifies medications eligible for funding. Please see the Financial Support Drug Program (FSDP) section of the BC Cancer Agency website for more information, including the FSDP drug benefit list.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Patient Assistance Programs

Some pharmaceutical manufacturers have patient assistance programs that provide financial assistance to patients for their active cancer treatment drugs, and supportive care drugs that may not be covered by the BC Cancer Agency.  They also offer home injection programs for some hormonal drugs.  Please refer to the Patient Assistance Programs document [Reimbursement & Forms] for more information. 
 

Special Access Programme

Sometimes cancer patients are prescribed drugs that are not yet approved for use, or readily available, in Canada.  These can be obtained through Health Canada’s Special Access Programme (SAP).  These medications are often provided free of charge by the manufacturer. For a listing of cancer drugs available through the SAP program, and their ordering procedures, see Drugs with Special Ordering Procedures [Reimbursement & Forms].


Note - a Compassionate Access Program approval is required to use a SAP drug at the BC Cancer Agency.


Other

For those patients who require financial assistance beyond that available above, additional drug funding may be available through the regional Cancer Centres. Contact the Patient and Family Counseling Department at the nearest Cancer Centre for further information. 

Please also see the Practical Support Financial Assistance and Resources sections for information on obtaining non-medication related financial aid.


 

BC Residents Treated in Other Provinces


BC residents are sometimes referred out‐of‐province for cancer treatment due to geographic or personal reasons. This may present some financial challenges regarding medication coverage for patients. The following considerations may help reduce financial strain incurred by cancer patients who are being treated outside B.C.: 
 
  • All BC residents for whom cancer drug reimbursement is required MUST be registered with the BC Cancer Agency, even if referred for out‐of‐province treatment. Clinicians may call 1‐800‐663‐3333 (Ext. 674610) to obtain a registration form.
  • BC Cancer Agency funded cancer regimens being delivered out‐of‐province are eligible for reimbursement. All BC Cancer Agency funded cancer regimens can be found on the Benefit Drug List [Reimbursement & Forms].
  • If treatment delivered outside BC is not provided according to a BC Cancer Agency funded cancer regimen, it must receive Compassionate Access Program (CAP) approval PRIOR to the start of treatment. Please contact the CAP office via email (cap_bcca@bccancer.bc.ca) or phone (1‐800‐663‐3333 [Ext. 672676]) for assistance. 

Parenteral Chemotherapy

Provided that BCCA patient registration and funding 
criteria are met, parenteral chemotherapy is funded 
through inter‐provincial reciprocity agreements.  

BC resident patients do not usually need to self‐pay and 
seek reimbursement from the BCCA for parenteral 
chemotherapy drugs delivered outside of BC.

Oral Chemotherapy & Other Take-Home Active Cancer Treatment Medications

Depending on the province/territory providing treatment, 
patients may be asked to self‐pay for oral chemotherapy and other take‐home cancer medications, and to seek 
reimbursement from the BC Cancer Agency.

Providing that BC Cancer Agency patient registration and funding criteria are met, the BC Cancer Agency will reimburse up to the equivalent drug cost at the BC Cancer Agency. 

Reimbursement generally takes up to 6‐8 weeks, but 
delays may occur.

In some cases, patients may have unrecoverable expenses due to drug price differences between the BC Cancer Agency & other provinces/territories.

For more information regarding take-home drug coverage, email bccapatientbilling@bccancer.bc.ca

Supportive Care Medications

Supportive care medications are not funded by the BC Cancer Agency.

Patients should consult with BC PharmaCare and/or their own extended health insurance providers to determine if 
supportive care medications purchased outside BC will be covered.

For patients registered with the BC Financial Support Drug Program (FSDP), FSDP does not provide financial coverage for supportive care medications purchased outside BC. 

This information will apply to all patients who are actively enrolled in a Canadian Provincial / Territories medical plan, other than British Columbia, and who attend the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) for systemic therapy care or treatment.


Patients from Other Provinces Treated in BC

All patients seen at the BC Cancer Agency get assigned a BC Cancer Agency ID number as part of the registration process only.

1. Inpatient Costs

Cancer drug costs associated with treatment in an inpatient setting will be charged to the patient’s home province at the rate approved by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreement Coordinating Committee.

2. Outpatient Costs

a) Intravenous Drugs covered by patient’s home province/territory


The rate approved by the Interprovincial Health Insurance 
Agreement Coordinating Committee will be charged to the patient’s home province/territory.

b) Intravenous Drugs not covered by the patient’s home province/territory

The patient will be responsible for the costs of those drugs.

c) Oral, hormonal or injectible (“take home”) cancer drugs

The costs of take-home drugs are not covered by BC. Out-of-province patients may take prescriptions for these drugs to be filled at a retail pharmacy of their choice. The cost of these drugs will be the responsibility of the patient if they are not covered by the patient’s extended health plan, NIHB, or the province/territory they are from.

For Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, (not including NIHB clients), a reciprocal billing agreement is in place such that the respective agencies may bill each other for take-home drugs on the respective Benefit Drug List dispensed for the appropriate indications.

3. Contact Information

For the most up-to-date cancer drug coverage information, please contact your provincial cancer agency.

For further BC Cancer Agency billing information, please contact the Provincial Pharmacy Program at email: bccapatientbilling@bccancer.bc.ca
 

SOURCE: Drug Funding ( )
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