Prescription smoking cessation therapies Champix and Zyban will now be covered under the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program and the New Brunswick Drug Plan.

The two drugs were reviewed through the standard evidenced-based drug review process and recommended for listing under the provincial drug plans, Health Minister Ted Flemming announced on Wednesday.


Prescriptions for Champix and Zyban will now be covered in New Brunswick. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

One course of treatment per year will be covered for members of both plans who are 18 years of age and older.

“Smoking rates have declined considerably over the past decade and I am hopeful that this initiative will result in even more New Brunswickers being able to quit smoking," Flemming said in a statement.

About 17.3 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 15 and older are smokers, compared to the national average of 16.7 per cent, according to the Health Department.

Barbara MacKinnon, the president and chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Lung Association, has previously spoken in favour of smoking cessation medications being covered in the province.

Such products can improve quitting success rates by three times, she has said.

Insuring the medications is money well spent, because smoking is the greatest case of lung cancer, said MacKinnon.

A report released last summer said smokers cost the health care system an extra 20 per cent over the course of their lifetime.

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries, which conducted the study in conjunction with the New Brunswick Health Council, predicted New Brunswick's annual health care costs are going to jump a billion dollars by the year 2020 without changes, partly due to the high number of smokers in the province.

Other factors include the aging population, and high rates of obesity and drinking, the study found.