Palliative Care Drug Program

Nova Scotia Pharmacare

Palliative Care Drug Program

Effective February 1, 2012, Nova Scotia introduced the Palliative Care Drug Program to help cover the cost of drugs needed for end-of-life care at home.

The goals of the Program are to ensure the cost of palliative care medications is not a barrier to symptom control and to help minimize financial burden for those who choose end-of life care at home.

Many existing drug coverage programs cover medications to help manage symptoms associated with palliative and end-of-life care. This program is for situations where additional coverage is required for home-based end-of-life care.


The Palliative Care Drug Program covers the cost of drugs needed to manage symptoms associated with end-of-life-care beyond the patient’s regular coverage. The list of drugs – Palliative Care Drug Program Formulary – is based on the pan-Canadian Gold Standards for Palliative Care.


Eligibility is assessed by a local specialist palliative care team.

Patients must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Live in Nova Scotia
  • Have a valid Nova Scotia Health Card number
  • Be assessed by a palliative care team to be in the end stage of a terminal illness and anticipated to be in the last 6 months of life
  • Wish to receive end-of-life care at home for as long as possible, whether in their own home, with family or friends, or in a supportive living residence


If eligible, the patient’s local specialist palliative care team completes a Palliative Care Drug Program Application Form and sends it to the Pharmacare office. Coverage is effective for 6 months from the enrolment date.

If a patient does not meet eligibility criteria, other Pharmacare programs should be considered, as appropriate.


There is no cost to the patient for medications approved under the program.

When Does Coverage Begin?

Drug coverage begins on the date that the application is signed. It may take 2–3 business days for Pharmacare to process the application. To ensure coverage is applied, patients should notify the pharmacy when prescriptions are being filled.

Other Coverage

If the patient has another form of drug coverage, such as Pharmacare, private insurance, NIHB, or DVA, they should retain it. These may give patients access to additional benefits they may need.

Pharmacies must bill private insurance, NIHB, or DVA before submitting a claim to the Palliative Care Drug Program.

Claim Submission

Claims are to be submitted online only as per other programs, using the patient identification number and a carrier ID of NS. Further information is available in the Pharmacists’ Guide.



If you have questions related to this Pharmacare program, please call:
Phone: (902) 496-5680
Toll Free 1-800-305-5026