How to - Resources for patients

When you or someone you love is first diagnosed with liver disease, you have a lot of questions about what to expect, how to cope and where to get help.

Throughout our website, you will find a wealth of resources and information that will help answer your questions. Below we have also included information to address some of the most common questions we receive and have added links to tools that will assist you in managing your care and treatment.

Note: The information links below have been chosen based on their content, source and potential usefulness for our site visitors and are provided here as a public service with regard to health-related issues. However, the Canadian Liver Foundation assumes no responsibility for any information on these sites and the inclusion of a link on this page does not constitute an endorsement of any sponsoring organization or individual by the Canadian Liver Foundation.

How are medications approved in Canada? Why do some provinces cover drugs when others won’t?
How can I pay for my medication?
How do I manage my medication? ‘Knowledge is the Best Medicine’ program
How do I navigate the health care system? The “How to” Health Guide
Canadian Biliary Atresia Registry 'Resources for Patients and Parents'


How are medications approved in Canada? Why do some provinces cover drugs when others won't?

In Canada, all drugs must go through a drug review process, before they can be made available for sale to patients or access through publicly funded drug plans.  The drug review and approval process starts when a drug manufacturer submits an application to Health Canada. Health Canada scientists and other outside experts review the safety, effectiveness, quality, as well as the potential benefits and risks of the drug.  Once they agree that the drug is safe and effective, it is approved and issued a Drug Identification Number (DIN). The manufacturer is then able to sell the drug in Canada.
Once a drug has been approved by Health Canada, the manufacturer must submit an application to the Common Drug Review (CDR) if they wish to have their drug listed on publicly funded drug plans. The CDR reviews and makes recommendations as to whether new drugs should be covered under publicly funded drug plans. All provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, participate in the CDR.  Once a recommendation is made, the provincial drug plans decide whether or not to include the drug on their provincial formulary.  Provincial drug plans are not required to follow the CDR recommendation, because each province and territory takes into account their own health care priorities and available resources.

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How can I pay for my medication?

Private health insurance or drug plans – if you have private health insurance or a drug plan at work, you may be able to have the medication paid through your plan. Please consult your private health insurance or drug plan provider to see if your drug is covered.

Publicly funded drug plans – each province and territory has their own rules.  Some provincial drug plans provide coverage for individuals 65 and older, or those on social assistance.  Some provinces (e.g. Ontario) provide special support to low income individuals. Please call your Provincial Ministry or Department of Health to get more information about the terms of the publicly funded drug plan in your province. (see links on page 13 of the “How To Health Guide”)

Quebec public drug program – In Quebec, everyone must be covered by prescription drug insurance either through private or publicly funded plans.

Pharmaceutical companies
Some pharmaceutical companies provide medications to patients who cannot afford them or who do not have government or private insurance under the Compassionate Use Programs. Each program has its own terms for eligibility. Please talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible for such a program.

Each provincial and territorial government offers a drug benefit plan for eligible groups. Some are income-based universal programs. Most have specific programs for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. These groups include seniors, recipients of social assistance, and individuals with diseases or conditions that are associated with high drug costs. For more details, please contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry, or click on the appropriate link below.  

• Alberta (Prescription Drug Programs)
• British Columbia (Pharmacare)
• Manitoba (Pharmacare Program)
• New Brunswick (Prescription Drug Program)
• Newfoundland (Pharmaceutical Services)
• Northwest Territories (Drug coverage)
• Nova Scotia (Pharmacare)
• Nunavut (Drug coverage)
• Ontario (Drug Benefit Program)
• Prince Edward Island (Drug Cost Assistance Programs)
• Quebec (Prescription Drug Insurance)
• Saskatchewan (Drug Plan)
• Yukon (Insured Health)

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How do I manage my medication?

Knowledge is the best medicine (KiBM) is a program that helps you take control of your health and work with your prescriber and the rest of your healthcare team to manage your medicines safely and appropriately. This program is supported by leading health organizations in Canada who believe that an educated patient is a healthier patient.
KIBM products will enable you and your family to:

• Keep an up-to-date medication list with you at all times
• Communicate your medication/health related needs at each point of contact with the healthcare system
• Easily access medication/health related information
To learn more about ‘Knowledge is the best medicine’, click here.

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How do I navigate the health care system? The “How to” health guide

If you, or someone you love and care for, are trying to find health services support or information for an illness or disease, there are actions you can take to help get the best possible health care. The Health Charities Coalition of Canada has prepared a ‘How To “ Health Guide that can help you::

• Understand the health care system
• Find the information and services you need
• Talk with your doctor or health care provider
• Ask for a second opinion
• Manage your condition
• Pay for your medication
• Participate in a clinical trial
• Advocate and ask for the support you need

To download The “How to” health guide, click here

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