Manitoba to provide free cancer drugs to all patients

Includes full coverage of cancer-support drugs
||Last Updated: 04/26/2012

The Manitoba government has announced it will help support cancer patients and their families by making oral cancer drugs free for Manitobans, eliminating deductibles and covering the cost of necessary support drugs that patients may need during their treatment.

The province currently covers the full cost of cancer medications when they are administered at CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) facilities. And the cost of oral cancer medications taken outside of a health facility was the responsibility of the patient, with coverage available through drug plans such as Manitoba Pharmacare with its income-based deductible. Some newer cancer drugs can cost thousands of dollars per month.

“Starting today, the new Home Cancer Drug Program will cover 100 per cent of the cost of oral cancer treatment and support drugs, with no deductibles,” said Health Minister Theresa Oswald. “This will also save some patients time and the inconvenience of having to go to the hospital for treatment. They can now take their medication in the comfort of their own home.”

Some cancer patients require specialized medications and chemotherapies, which were previously only available in hospitals through intravenous drip or injection. However, over the last few years, through medical advancements, a growing number of cancer medications and chemotherapy treatments have become available in oral form, allowing patients to take the medicine at home.

“These new oral cancer drugs are quite expensive, leaving many patients unable to afford them up until today. In the past, many patients have decided to travel to the hospital for treatment because they couldn’t afford the oral medication. For some rural patients, this can mean a lot of travel,” said Oswald.

In addition to approved oral cancer treatment medications, the province will also fully cover the cost of appropriate cancer-support drugs, which include anti-nausea medications to counter the difficult side-effects of chemotherapy treatments.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan are now the only two provinces in Canada to fully cover the cost of both oral treatments and support drugs no matter where they are taken, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

It’s estimated 6,100 Manitobans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. More information is available at

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