“Providing Your Innovative
Benefits Solutions”
Over-the-Counter Products October 2009
________________________________________________________________________ Information Update for Group Benefits Plan Sponsors and Administrators
Effective January 1, 2010 Health Canada is re-classifying certain over-the-
counter (OTC) products as NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS.
The intent of this change is to distinguish “Natural Health Products” from “Drugs”.
This new regulated change will help to ensure that these products are approved
for sale in Canada and labeled appropriately, giving Canadians access to
products that are safe, effective and of high quality.
What effect will these changes have on Health Risk
Services (HRS) plans?
Today, HRS plans cover drugs that have been prescribed by an eligible
prescriber, that are approved by Health Canada and that have a valid Drug
Identification Number (DIN). Since most OTCs will no longer have valid DINs,
they will generally NOT be eligible for coverage under HRS plans staring January
1, 2010.
How will the new regulations affect the current drug
Effective January 2, 2010 most manufacturers of OTCs MUST COMPLY with
Canada’s natural health product regulations, which came into effect in 2004.
This means that certain OTCs must include an eight-digit natural product number
(MPN) or drug identification number – homeopathic medicine (DIN-HM) from
Health Canada. The DINs for existing OTCs that qualify as natural health
products will be discontinued.
At this time, it’s not known exactly which OTC products will be re-classified as
natural health products, since manufacturers must apply for NPNs.
Will Life-sustaining OTCs continue to be covered?
YES. Life-sustaining OTCs, such as nitroglycerin, insulin, diabetic test strips,
lancets, syringes, auto-injectors and glucagons, will retain their DINs and
continue to be covered.
Will vitamins and minerals be covered?
Only injectable vitamins and prescription-strength vitamins will continue to be
covered, since these vitamins will retain their DINs. Other vitamins will not be
covered. OTC minerals, such as fluoride, iron, potassium and magnesium, will
not be covered.
Will Smoking cessation continue to be covered?
Yes. For plans with smoking cessation coverage, products that require a
prescription by law will continue to be covered. Other products will not be
Please Note: There may be some inconsistency in coverage of OTC
products due to pharmacies potentially stocking the same product with both DIN
labeling and NPN or DIN-HM labeling. For example, if a pharmacy dispenses an
OTC product with DIN labeling, the product may be eligible for coverage under
your HRS plan. If a pharmacy dispenses the same OTC product with NPN or
DIN-HM labeling, the product will not be eligible for coverage under HRS plans
as reclassification of natural health products continues.
For more information on the new drug regulations, or to request
that a policy amendment be initiated, please contact Luene La
Fountaine of Health Risk Services Inc. at 403-236-9430 or 1-877-
236-9430 or [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this YOUR BENEFITS UPDATE contains the views of
Health Risk Services Inc. at the time this communication was prepared. Although the contents are
believed to be correct, this is not intended to be tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to obtain a
legal or financial opinion of your own in this regard.
Errors and Omissions Insurance applies.


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