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Accessing Treatments in Canada

The Canada Health Act establishes the framework for a public health care system which provides universal coverage for all Canadians to services that are deemed “medically necessary” – that is physician and hospital services, including medications administered in in-patient hospital settings.

Missing from this framework are certain services provided outside of hospitals, including services by health care professionals that may be useful to people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, like occupational therapists, social workers and counsellors, and outpatient prescription medications.

People may access medications outside of the hospital settings in various ways, including private insurance, public drug coverage and/or paying out-of-pocket.  Sometimes drug manufacturers provide patient support programs which could help with the cost of medications.

Click each heading below for additional information.



How Prescription Drugs are Currently Accessed in Canada

In Canada, prescription drugs administered inside hospitals and outside hospitals are accessed differently.

Special Access / Limited Use Designation Drugs

On most private or provincial drug programs, some medications may be listed as “special access” (SA) or “limited use” drugs. Drugs with this designation are typically more expensive and require the fulfillment of certain criteria to be covered.

Accessing Phototherapy in Canada

Medically supervised phototherapy is often recommended as a treatment for plaque psoriasis given its effectiveness, low cost, and relative safety. Despite this, medically supervised phototherapy can be difficult to access.


Where to Get Questions about Access Answered

Understand what to expect at the Pharmacy, and how to get your coverage questions answered. 


How New Non-Oncology Drugs Become Available in Canada

Before prescription drugs become accessible through public drug plans in Canada, there is a multi-step process for regulating and reviewing new medications.

Last updated August, 2023.


This Site was designed for educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Individual variances in psoriasis cases require the consultation of a physician to make sound medical decisions. The information presented on this website is not intended to replace the counsel of your physician. It is important to see your doctor before altering anything in your treatment plan. The Canadian Psoriasis Network does not endorse any medications, products, equipment or treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Any of the information contained within the Canadian Psoriasis Network’s Site is not presented as a substitute for informed medical advice. Visitors to this site should not engage in self-diagnosis nor act on information contained in the Site without seeking specific advice on the particular matters which are of concern to them from qualified health professionals and advisors. Some of the information contained in the Site has been provided from external sources. While efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy, currency, and reliability of the content, the Canadian Psoriasis Network accepts no responsibility in that regard. Please refer to our Terms of Use for further details.

This resource was made possible through support from:

LEO Pharma