Letters to the Editor

B.C.’s stop-smoking program comes with a few conditions

To the Editor,

Re: Quit-smoking program still in demand, April 21.

There is an important clarification to make.

The article states that, “Pharmacare will cover the cost of a 12-week supply of Champix or Zyban, if prescribed by a doctor to ease withdrawal from smoking”.

While the quit-smoking program has allowed these medications to become full benefits for a 12-week course, they are not automatically free.

There has been some confusion for patients and physicians in our community on this matter so I will do my best to clarify the coverage of these medications.

Champix and Zyban will only be free if the individual is registered with the province’s Fair Pharmacare program and if they are over their annual deductible and maximum amounts.

The deductible and maximum are set for each individual or family (based on information that Pharmacare gets from your income tax records) and are due each calendar year.

If someone is not over their deductible amount, they would have to pay the full price of their Champix or Zyban and it would count toward their deductible.  Compare this to the time before the quit-smoking program was introduced when someone would have to pay the full cost of a prescription for Champix or Zyban and it would not count toward their annual deductible.

If someone is unsure if they are registered for Fair Pharmacare or wants to find out their deductible or maximum, they can call 1-800-663-7100 or go to the government of B.C. website (www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare).

Pharmacists are a great community resource.

They can help individuals find out if they are registered with the Fair Pharmacare program, can determine how much someone would have to pay for their quit-smoking prescriptions and provide ongoing support to people who are in the process of quitting smoking.

The above information only applies to the prescription medications used in the quit-smoking program.

The 12-week course of nicotine replacement (patches or gum) is a free benefit to all B.C. residents regardless of Fair Pharmacare registration status and can be accessed by calling 811. Have your care card number ready.

Amy Shepherd

pharmacist, Parksville

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