Methods and medications

Find the options that best suit you.

Accessing prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy in BC

You can get coverage for up to 12 weeks for one of the following two options:
prescription medications or Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

More about your coverage

Prescription medications

Prescription medications do not contain nicotine but reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms by affecting how nicotine interacts with your brain. Using quitting medications can increase your chances of quitting smoking successfully. It's even more effective when combined with counselling support.
Brand Name
Name
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Champix®
Varenicline
Blocks effects of nicotine
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Zyban®
Bupropion
Makes smoking less pleasurable
Covered by PharmaCare BC

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) works by providing the body with nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. NRT is one of the most effective tools to help people quit and can increase your chances of quit success. It's even more effective when combined with counselling.
Name
Release Type
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Nicotine gum
Short-acting
Good for occasional smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine lozenges
Short-acting
Different strengths available
Covered by PharmaCare BC
More detailsHide details

Effectiveness

When used as directed, there is evidence it can increase your chances of successfully quitting.

Advantages

  • Easy to use.
  • Small lozenge that dissolves in the mouth.
  • Helps to manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal such as breakthrough cravings.
  • You can choose the strength of lozenge to use. This is dependent on the number of cigarettes you smoke per day.

Common side effects

  • Mouth, throat or tongue irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Hiccups
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness

How to use

  • Place one lozenge in your mouth and allow it to dissolve slowly.
  • Occasionally move the lozenge to one side of your mouth to the other.
  • Do not bite, chew, or swallow the lozenge whole.
  • Do not eat or drink while the lozenge is in your mouth.
  • Do not use more than 15 lozenges per day.
  • The lozenge should take about 20 to 30 minutes to dissolve.

Note: There are two strengths of lozenges so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which strength is right for you.

For more information on appropriate dosage, read the package insert or consult your physician or pharmacist.
 


Warnings & precautions

Do not use the nicotine lozenge if you are:

  • Under the age of 18 years of age.
  • Allergic to nicotine or any of the non-medicinal ingredients in the product.

Consult your pharmacist or physician prior to using the nicotine lozenge if the following apply to you:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Heart problems.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Circulation problems.
  • Stomach problems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Taking insulin.
  • Use any prescribed medication regularly. Smoking alters the effects of some medications, and when you quit smoking it may be necessary for your doctor to adjust the doses, especially if you are diabetic, taking medications for high blood pressure or heart disease, or taking antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills.

Fully covered supply of Nicotine Lozenge for BC Residents 

Each calendar year, eligible BC residents can receive up to a three month supply of  Nicorette® lozenges (2 mg, 4 mg) through the PharmaCare BC Smoking Cessation Program. You can find more information about how to access this program here.

Nicotine patch
Long-acting
Good for heavy smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine inhaler
Short-acting
Choose how often to use it
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine mouth spray
Short-acting
Choose how often to use it
Not covered by PharmaCare BC

Combination Nicotine Replacement Therapy

What is combination NRT?

Combination NRT is using two forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to increase your chance of successfully quitting, as follows:

  • Long-acting NRT (nicotine patch) to provide steady levels of nicotine.

  • Short-acting NRT (gum, lozenge, inhaler or spray) to help reduce breakthrough cravings or deal with challenging situations. 

Effectiveness

  • Combining a long-acting nicotine patch with a short-acting NRT like nicotine gum, when used as directed, can increase quit rates compared to using a single NRT product. 

Who are good candidates for combination NRT?

Combination NRT may be appropriate for people who:

  • Have used NRT in previous quit attempts but relapsed while using it.
  • Feel they need something more than a patch or other single form of NRT to deal with intense cravings to smoke.

Talk to your doctor prior to using any kind of combination therapy, including combining NRTs, or combining prescription smoking cessation therapy with NRTs. Be sure to review how to use each NRT product properly, including the warnings and precautions for each product.

Other methods

There are other quit methods and approaches that people use to quit, but some are more effective than others. Read more about which methods will increase your likelihood of quitting in the long run.
Name
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Cytisine
Reduces pleasure to nicotine
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
E-cigarettes / Vaping
Reduces exposure to harmful chemicals
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
Gradual reduction
Keep you engaged in a positive behavior change
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC
Alternative therapies
Variety of options available
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC
Cold turkey
Not applicable
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC

Questions about symptoms or your health?

Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider to understand how different medications will interact and about your personal health.