Health and Community Services
July 17, 2008

Province Invests an Additional $3 Million into Prescription Drug Program

A $3.3 million investment by the Provincial Government will see seven new prescription medications added to the provincial formulary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) and easier access for three additional groups of prescription medications. Both changes come into effect August 1, 2008.

"The addition of new prescription drugs and the change of others to open benefit are consistent with the recommendations of Atlantic and National Expert Review Committees and demonstrate our commitment to improving access to medications for the people of our province," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. "Additionally, removing the special authorization process for other drugs will greatly reduce the administrative processes for physicians prescribing these medications, given these drugs account for 30 per cent of all special authorization requests."

The seven new drugs being added to the provincial formulary are:

  • Alendronate, criteria change for the treatment of osteoporosis;
  • Remicade and Enbrel to treat moderate to severe forms of plaque psoriasis;
  • Pegasys, Baraclude and Hepsera as a second-line treatment for Hepatitis B to be used when other treatments are not effective; and,
  • Emend to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients who are being treated with chemotherapy when other treatments have not been effective.
  • These new additions will be available to eligible patients through special authorization.

    The three classes of prescription medications being moved from special authorization to open benefit account for approximately 30 per cent of all special authorization requests provincially. They are:

  • Generic Omeprazole and Rabeprazole to treat various stomach problems such as acid reflux and ulcers;
  • Lamotrigine to treat seizures and bipolar disorder; and
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers for high blood pressure.
  • "Our government has made the most substantial improvements to the prescription drug program in the history of this province, having increased the annual budget for the program by $53 million, with the current budget at $151 million," said Minister Wiseman. "Through the enhancements we have made to the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, we are providing significantly improved access to drug coverage for our residents."

    The NLPDP provides assistance in the purchase of prescription medications for eligible residents with certain drugs requiring special authorization for approval. There are four main plans under the program including the Foundation Plan for persons and families in receipt of income support benefits through the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and individuals receiving services through the regional health authorities, including children in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services, and individuals in supervised care; the 65 Plus Plan to residents 65 years of age and older who are in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and who are registered for Old Age Security benefits; the Access Plan for individuals and families with low incomes; and, the Assurance Plan for individuals and families with high drug costs.

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    Media contact:
    Tara Furlong
    Communications Manager
    Department of Health and Community Services
    709-729-2888, 727-5953

    2008 07 17                                                      9:50 a.m.

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