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Cancer Drugs

Cancer drugs can prolong life or increase a patient’s quality of life by reducing symptoms.

How We Help

Before deciding to use specific drugs to treat patients, healthcare providers need information about what individual drugs do, how they should be administered, how effective they are and how much they cost.

We help by guiding and implementing policy and best-practice care standards for cancer drugs in Ontario. We also help remove barriers to treatment so eligible patients have access to the right cancer therapies – those proven to offer significant clinical benefits and value for money – when they need them.

Drug Formulary

An information only resource providing online drug and regimen monographs reflecting the choices of chemotherapy used across Ontario. Supportive Care and Symptom Control Regimens, and Patient Information sheets are also available. Go to Drug Formulary .

Cancer Drug Funding Programs in Ontario

Cancer drugs in Ontario are funded through a mix of private and public funding. Ontario offers drug funding programs for the treatment of cancer patients, three of which are administered through the Provincial Drug Reimbursement Programs at Cancer Care Ontario.

Coverage for all Ontario residents
Cancer Drug Funding Options in Ontario
Age 65+ / Social Assistance /
no or limited insurance
Delivery setting Standard programs Programs requiring special authorization
Administered in hospital ambulatory clinics and cancer centres Hospital Global Budget / New Drug Funding Program
(for injectable therapy)
Evidence-Building Program Case-by-Case Review Program
Administered in community Private Insurance
(for oral therapy)
Ontario Drug Benefit
(for oral therapy)
Exceptional Access Program Case-by-Case Review Program
Number of patients  Many Few Rare

Note: For eligibility criteria, refer to each drug program's policy.

Cancer drugs provided in hospitals and cancer centres

  • Some cancer drugs are covered by the hospital directly, as part of its global budget.
  • CCO’s New Drug Funding Program directly covers the cost of many newer and often very expensive injectable cancer drugs.
  • CCO’s Evidence Building Program covers the cost of cancer drugs in situations where data is collected to answer an evidence gap, to evaluate clinical benefit, and to confirm overall value.
  • CCO’s Case-By-Case Review Program considers requests for cancer drugs otherwise not funded, for patients with rare clinical circumstances that are immediately life-threatening.
  • In some situations patients may use private insurance or pay directly for drugs that are not publicly funded.

Cancer drugs taken at home

  • Many Ontarians rely on private insurance for funding cancer drugs taken at home.
  • The Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program covers the cost of many drugs for seniors, those on social assistance, and some other groups.
  • Ontario residents with high drug costs in relation to their household income, who do not qualify under other programs, can apply for the Trillium Drug Program
  • In very special cases, the Exceptional Access Program (EAP) may provide patient-specific funding to ODB-eligible recipients where drugs on the ODB list have been tried and do not work, or specific criteria have been met. 
  • CCO’s Case-By-Case Review Program considers requests for cancer drugs otherwise not funded, for patients with rare clinical circumstances that are immediately life-threatening.
Last modified: Thu, Feb 06, 2014
cancer care ontario | action cancer ontario   620 University Avenue Toronto Ontario, Canada M5G 2L7   Phone: 416.971.9800 Fax: 416.971.6888

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