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Ministry of Health
B.C. Smoking Cessation Program

Getting Your Refills

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Can I get the full supply of medication at once?


You are eligible for a 12-week (84-day) supply of prescription drug coverage or nicotine gum or patches but you can only get a 4-week (28-day) supply at a time. You’ll get 3 fills over the 12 week course of treatment.

Why only a 4-week (28-day) supply?

We limit each fill to 4 weeks (28 days) in case the medication does not agree with you, or you need to change the dosage, or you decide to stop treatment. That way neither you nor we will have had to pay for medication that can’t be used.

We also limit the supply because not everyone needs a full 12-week course of treatment to be able to quit. Some people are able to quit sooner.

When should I get my refills?

You should arrange to get your refill about 11 to 13 days before you will run out of your current supply. If you are having the NRTs mailed to you, place your order no sooner than 14 days after you placed your previous order. See Ordering your additional fills (PDF 130K) for details.

PharmaCare has a policy on covering early fills of medication. The policy is that we will not cover the cost of a prescription refill when you still have more than a 14 days supply on hand. This policy applies to nicotine gum or patches as well.

How do I get refills of my prescription smoking cessation drug?

If your doctor gave you a prescription for the full 12 weeks, simply visit your pharmacy to get your prescription drug refills.

If your doctor wrote you a prescription for a shorter course of treatment (e.g., 8 weeks of bupropion [Zyban®]), you will need to visit your doctor again to see if you need more medication.

How do I get refills of nicotine gum or patches?

To get your nicotine gum or patch refills, phone HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to place your refill order. They will take care of your request. You can change the product you want with your next refill order (from gum to patch or vice versa). You can change the dosage strength (e.g., from a 4 mg strength gum to a 2 mg strength). You can also change the way you want to get the products:

  • if you want, HealthLink BC can have your order mailed directly to your home

  • if you prefer to pick up your refill at your pharmacy, HealthLink BC will give you a new reference number to take to your pharmacy

    You must bring the new reference number with you when you visit your pharmacy for each refill. The pharmacist cannot fill your order without it.

Do I have to return to the same pharmacy for my refills?

No. You can pick up your refills at any community pharmacy.

If you are picking up nicotine gum or patches, all you will need is your Care Card and the HealthLink-provided reference number.

You can pick up your refills of bupropion (Zyban®) or varenicline (Champix®) just as you do for any other prescription drug.

I stopped taking my medication partway through my twelve-week course of treatment. Can I start up again at a later date?

That depends.

The coverage period is for 12 consecutive weeks (84 consecutive days).

Once you fill your first prescription or get your first supply of nicotine gum or patches, the 12-week (84-day) coverage period starts. You have to pick up all 3 fills of medication before the end of that 84-day period.

If you stopped for a week or two, you would still be able to get all three fills within the 84 days. If you stopped for a month or more, however, your coverage may have run out before your last refill order.

>> See If you tried to quit but start using tobacco again for more information on when you will be able to get coverage again.

I stopped taking my medication partway through my 12-week course of treatment. Can I start up again at a later date?

You may be able to. See If you react badly to a smoking cessation medication for details.