Nova Scotia

Cancer Patients Celebrate New Program for Take-Home Cancer Medications in Nova Scotia

The province of Nova Scotia currently has two very different mechanisms for funding provincially-listed cancer treatments:

  • If it is an intravenous (IV) drug that needs to be administered in a hospital setting, it will be funded by the provincial government 100%.
  • However, if it is something taken outside of hospital (oral or injectable), it is the patient's responsibility to pay for it.

This is unlike many other provinces in Canada where approved cancer drugs are funded 100% regardless of how the patient takes the drug.

Facts: How much do patients and their families pay in Nova Scotia?

For intravenous drugs listed on the provincial formulary, patients pay $0.

For oral cancer drugs and take-home injectables, Nova Scotia typically requires patients on their universal public program ("Family Pharmacare") to pay in two ways:

  • First, they must pay up front until a certain amount is reached (called a "deductible").
  • Once that amount is reached they will then receive 80% coverage, paying 20% of each prescription’s cost until their family’s annual copayment limit is reached. These amounts vary greatly by family income. The plan has been criticized publicly for unrealistic expectations of affordability since its inception in 2008.


  • For example, a person with a gross annual family income of $35,000 would have to pay $1400 + a 20% copayment before receiving any help from Family pharmacare. This means if that person required a drug that cost $6,000 per month, that person would have to come up with $2600 to be able to start the drug.
  • A person with a gross annual family income of $70,000 would have to pay $7,700 + a 20% copayment, so that person would have to pay $9,700 for that drug before any help would be received. Comparatively, a person over 65 on NS Seniors Pharmacare would only pay $382 in a copayment for the year.

For more information about deductibles and copayments in Nova Scotia, see here: NS Family Pharmacare Calculator

What can you do?

If you need any help, please contact: [email protected] and one of our patient advocate volunteers will get back to you.

Please share with us any response you receive. We will be meeting with provincial representatives as we go forward with this campaign. And on behalf of all cancer patients who need this issue solved, THANK YOU.

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