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Ministry of Health
B.C. Smoking Cessation Program

If You React Badly to a Smoking Cessation Medication

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Prescription smoking cessation drugs and nicotine replacement therapy products can have side-effects. Some of them are mild and some can be serious.

It’s a good idea to discuss these side effects with your doctor or pharmacist before you start treatment.

What if I react badly to a prescription smoking cessation drug or NRT product?

If the reaction is serious, call your doctor or 9-1-1.

If the reaction is mild, call your doctor or pharmacist or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for advice on what to do.

To learn more about what kinds of side effects you might feel, refer to QuitNow’s Quit Medication Guide.

If I react badly, can I switch to another medication and still get PharmaCare coverage?

In some cases, yes you can.

Switching from one prescription to another prescription

If you react badly to one prescription smoking cessation drug, your doctor can prescribe the other drug. Your doctor will need to get permission from PharmaCare’s Special Authority program for the switch before PharmaCare will cover the new drug. Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Switching from a prescription drug to a nicotine gum or patch

If you paid the entire cost of the prescription smoking cessation drug

If you react badly to a prescription smoking cessation drug and want to switch to a nicotine gum or patch product, you can get the product free of charge if you paid the entire cost of the prescription. Phone HealthLink BC at 8‑1‑1 to register (see How do I order a supply of nicotine gum or patches? for details).

If PharmaCare paid part or all of the cost of the prescription smoking cessation drug

If PharmaCare paid any part of the prescription cost, you cannot phone HealthLink BC to get a nicotine gum or patch product for free in the same year as you got the prescription drug.

You might be able to get a nicotine gum or patch product at no charge in the same year if your doctor recommends it for medical reasons. Your doctor will need to send a Special Authority request to PharmaCare for the switch, asking for additional coverage on your behalf. Requests are evaluated on an exceptional case-by-case basis.

Switching from nicotine gum or patches to a prescription drug

If you react badly to a nicotine gum or patch and want to switch to a prescription smoking cessation drug, you will usually have to wait until the next calendar year before PharmaCare will cover the drug.

You might be able to have PharmaCare cover the prescription drug in the same year as the nicotine gum or patch. You will have to visit your doctor, and your doctor will need to send a Special Authority request to PharmaCare for the switch, asking for additional coverage on your behalf. Requests are evaluated on an exceptional case-by-case basis.