How to Access Prescription Medications or Nicotine Replacement Therapy in BC

The BC Smoking Cessation Program helps eligible BC residents who wish to stop smoking or using other tobacco products by covering one of two treatment options outlined below:

  • Prescription smoking cessation medications, or
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products

Please note that the BC Smoking Cessation Program only offers coverage of NRT and/or quit-smoking medications for those looking to quit tobacco products, and that these products are not currently covered for those looking to quit vaping only.

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What is covered and how to access?

PharmaCare will cover one of two types of drugs:

  • Bupropion (brand name Zyban®)
  • Varenicline generics (brand name Champix® is only covered partially) 

You can get coverage for up to 12 weeks of either of these drugs. Coverage is based on your income level and Pharmacare plan. 

You must be covered by one of these PharmaCare plans: 

  • Fair PharmaCare - Coverage depends on whether you have met your deductible and family maximum 
  • Residential Care (Plan B) - Full cost covered 
  • B.C. Income Assistance (Plan C) - Full cost covered 
  • Psychiatric Medications (Plan G) - Full cost covered 
  • First Nations Health Benefits (Plan W) - Full cost covered 

How to access prescription medications: 

  1. Talk to a healthcare provider to see if smoking cessation drugs are right for you. 

  1. If they prescribe a drug, they will advise you on how best to improve your chances of quitting. 

  1. Fill your prescription at the pharmacy. 

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Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Each calendar year, eligible BC residents can receive up to a three month supply of nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges through the  BC Smoking Cessation Program.

You do not need to be signed up for Fair PharmaCare, but you do need to be enrolled in MSP. 

How to access NRT: 

Visit your local pharmacy and bring your medical services card. You and the pharmacist must both sign a declaration form. You do not need a prescription, and you can likely get NRTs the same day.  

You can get a 4-week (28-day) supply of one NRT product at a time. During the 12-week course of treatment, you can get three 4-week refills. If you started with one NRT product and want to switch to a different NRT product, you can request this at your pharmacy when you go back for your next refill. 

A note on coverage

Each calendar year (January to December), you can receive one continuous course of either treatment (NRT or prescriptions) of up to 12 weeks (84 days). You will get a month’s supply at a time. The 12 weeks of treatment begin when you fill your first prescription or pick up your first NRT product.

After your first dispense, you have 84 days to request all your remaining prescription or NRT supplies. After that, you will have to wait until the next calendar year before PharmaCare will provide coverage. 

Additionally, if you miss or skip a month during the 84-day period, you will not be able to pick up your remaining supply and will have to wait until the next calendar year to re-start your coverage.