Editorial Exchange: Subsidizing Quit-Smoking Drugs a Health No-Brainer

By Chronicle-, Halifax | The Canadian Press, June 12, 2015 | Go to article overview

Editorial Exchange: Subsidizing Quit-Smoking Drugs a Health No-Brainer


Chronicle-, Halifax, The Canadian Press


Editorial Exchange: Subsidizing quit-smoking drugs a health no-brainer

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An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published June 10:

Lung cancer. Heart disease. Diabetes.

With a list of smoking-related diseases that seems to grow each year, it is little wonder that a physician in Cape Breton has called on the province to help people quit smoking.

Dr. Paul MacDonald prescribes smoking cessation drugs for low-income patients who have had smoking-related health problems like strokes and heart attacks, but says they can't afford to get them filled.

A 12-week supply of drugs Zyban or Champix costs about $400, largely covered by employer-sponsored drug plans. But it's a huge cost for low-income Nova Scotians without, or with inadequate, drug insurance.

Critics point out that smoking for three months could cost even more, but nicotine addiction is powerful, and those in its grip need help to quit.

Even people on income assistance and family and seniors' Pharmacare can have problems accessing the drugs they need. The provincial drug formulary includes Zyban but not Champix, for example, although people can sometimes access the latter on a case-by-case basis. Physicians need a choice of drugs in order to meet patients' varied health needs.

Other Canadian provinces and territories fund such drugs for low-income patients.

"It's certainly frustrating when you're not given the tools to help treat people with this addiction," says Dr. MacDonald, a cardiologist who notes that smoking is the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic lung disease. …

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