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New Regulations Regarding Over-the-Counter Drugs

News Release

Effective January 1, 2010, many over-the-counter drugs (OTCs) will lose their Drug Identification Numbers (DINs), as they will be re-classified as natural health products by Health Canada. These natural health products will now be identified with a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM).

This change is a result of the Natural Health Products Regulations which came into force on January 1, 2004. The intent of the regulations is to allow for the clear identification of natural health products and to provide Health Canada with the ability to ensure that the natural health products sold in Canada are safe, effective and of high quality.

Manufacturers of OTCs were given six years to have their products re-classified as natural health products. As a result, on January 1, 2010, OTC drugs that fall under the natural foods umbrella will no longer have Drug Identification Numbers (DINs).

Products that will fall under the natural health products umbrella include: vitamins and minerals; homeopathic medicines; traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines; probiotics; and other products like amino acids and essentially fatty acids.

Impact of New Regulations on Industrial Alliance’s Group Insurance Plans

Under the standard Industrial Alliance group insurance plan, for a drug to be eligible for reimbursement, it must be prescribed by an eligible prescriber, dispensed by a pharmacist and have a valid DIN.

As a result, effective January 1, 2010, the OTC drugs that lose their DINs due to their reclassification as natural health products will no longer be eligible for reimbursement under our group plans.

Plans that may be impacted by the new regulations are those that cover OTC products such as vitamins, minerals or non-prescription smoking cessation products.

However, the new regulations will not affect plans which provide coverage for the following:

Life-sustaining OTCs such as nitroglycerin, insulin and diabetic supplies Injectable vitamins and prescription vitamins Smoking cessation products that require a prescription

Since only a small percentage of our group plans cover over-the-counter drugs and such claims represent only a small percentage of the drug claims under the plans, the new regulations are expected to have little or no impact for plan members.In Quebec, products that are re-classified as a result of the new regulations but are considered eligible expenses by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) will continue to be covered under Industrial Alliance’s group insurance plans.

Further Information

For more information about the possible impact of the new regulations on the drug coverage provided to your members under your group insurance plan, please contact your benefits advisor or your Industrial Alliance group account executive.