Fund to help patients with cost of take-home cancer drugs

(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Nova Scotians who are prescribed take-home cancer drugs can benefit from a new fund to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The fund means patients will pay no more than four per cent of their net family income for these drugs.

“For some Nova Scotians dealing with cancer, the financial burden of expensive medications can be overwhelming,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “This fund will help Nova Scotians who are facing exceptionally high costs for take-home cancer drugs focus on their health instead of their medical expenses.”

The new fund was launched this month and is retroactive to April 1, 2017. It covers drugs included on Nova Scotia Pharmacare programs that are used to treat cancer including: chemotherapy, hormonal therapies, and immunotherapies. It does not cover supportive care drugs such as anti-nausea and pain medications.

“This is welcome news for cancer patients who are prescribed take-home cancer drugs as part of their treatment,” said Dr. Daniel Rayson, medical oncologist, QEII Cancer Care Program. “These drugs are often very expensive and this fund will help to ease the financial strain that many cancer patients face in trying to manage expensive co-payments.”

Derek Lesser agrees. His daughter was starting university in September 2014 when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer following a routine health exam.

“Our daughter’s cancer diagnosis was very hard on her and all of our family,” said Mr. Lesser. “She needed a take-home cancer drug and we were prepared to sell our house to ensure she had the treatment she needed. Thankfully, because she was a student, the drug was covered by her health plan. Today she is well again; and we did not lose our house, but I know people who have not had it so good. This fund will help many patients and I thank government for investing in Nova Scotians.”

The Take-Home Cancer Drug Fund was made possible with government’s commitment of $846,000 this fiscal year and $2 million in each of the next three years.

It is administered through Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), and is an interim measure to help bridge the gap while government explores longer-term solutions.

Cancer patient navigators, social workers and medication resource specialists will work with patients to help them access this new fund. A coordinator will also provide support and help in processing applications.

To access the fund, a patient must:

  • Be a Nova Scotia resident and have a valid Nova Scotia health card;
  • Have a prescription for take-home cancer drugs;
  • Have accessed all other sources of financial assistance available, including private, public, and manufacturer assistance programs;
  • Have out-of-pocket expenses for eligible take-home cancer drugs greater than 4% of net family income, as defined by line 236 of Canada Revenue Agency’s Notice of Assessment; and
  • Register with the Nova Scotia Family Pharmacare Program and meet any coverage criteria associated with the specific drug.

Patients who filled prescriptions for take-home cancer drugs between April 1, 2017 and February 13, 2018 may also be eligible for reimbursement. The deadline for applying for retroactive reimbursement is September 30, 2018.

More information is available at Patients who have questions should speak with their cancer care team or call 1-866-599-2267, option two.


Media contact:

Christine Smith, Nova Scotia Health Authority