In Canada, there are a variety of sources of funding for medications, including public and private insurance and drug companies’ patient assistance programs.
Each province has its own list of drugs that it funds. This list is called a formulary. The formulary differs from one province to another, as do the criteria for the patients who may access these drugs. Some drugs are funded only for certain groups, such as seniors, recipients of social assistance, or individuals with diseases that may have expensive treatments. Not all drugs that are approved by Health Canada are covered in each province or territory. Typically, drugs given in a hospital are funded under the Canada Health Act. If you or loved one needs a drug that is not listed in the formulary, you may want to explore alternatives, such as private medical insurance, or pay for the medications out of pocket. Download contact information for the provincial formularies in Canada.
Many provinces also have income support programs to fund drugs. Contact your Ministry of Health for information on what your province offers.
Private insurance, provided either through your employer or bought directly from an insurance company, can often cover drugs that are not on the provincial or territorial formulary. Check with your insurance provider to see whether the drugs you need are covered. For more information on how to get funding for drugs, see our brochure Who Pays for Drugs in Canada.
If you have a serious or life-threatening condition for which conventional therapies have failed, your doctor can arrange through Health Canada’s Special Access Programme for you to have access to drugs that are not licensed for sale in Canada. For more information or application forms, visit their website.
Some drug manufacturers offer patient assistance programs for certain drugs to help cover a portion of, or all of the costs of your treatment. Download contact information for various manufacturers’ patient assistance programs. (PDF inserted here)
Clinical trials may give you access to new and emerging treatments that ordinarily would not be available to you. For more information on clinical trials click here.
The Canadian Cancer Society has a database that can be used to find local support services in your area. You can access it below: