Over-the-Counter Drugs Reclassified by Health Canada

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As of January 1, 2010, many over-the-counter drugs will lose their Drug Identification Numbers (DINs) and will be reclassified as Natural Health Products and identified by a Natural Product Number (NPN.) As our plans do not cover Natural Health Products, these products will no longer be eligible for coverage under Sun Life Financial plans, even if prescribed by a medical practitioner.

Why the change?

Prior to January 1, 2004, Natural Health Products were classified under the Food and Drug Act as either a drug product or a food product.  As the use of Natural Health Products grew, it became apparent that these products needed to be categorized separately.

The Natural Health Products Regulations came into force on January 1, 2004 and are designed to control the safety, effectiveness, quality, identification and labelling of Natural Health Products.

Manufacturers had six years to transition their natural health products to the new classification. This six-year period expires as of January 1, 2010 and all Natural Health Products will have their NPN or DIN-HM by that date.

What products are changing?

Products that are being reclassified as Natural Health Products include vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, probiotics, and other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Impact to Your Drug Plan

Some of the products that will no longer be eligible for coverage under your Sun Life Financial plan are described below .  Your plan will be affected if it covers the following:

  • vitamins
  • minerals (such as fluoride, iron, potassium and magnesium)
  • non-prescription smoking cessation products

There will be no change to coverage for the items listed below.  If your plan currently covers the following, coverage will continue:  

  • life-sustaining, over-the-counter products such as insulin, diabetic supplies, and nitroglycerin
  • injectible vitamins and prescription-strength vitamins
  • smoking cessation products that require a prescription.

Because only a small percentage of plans provide coverage for over-the-counter products, and over-the-counter claims represent a small percentage of overall claims, this change will have no or minimal impact for most plan members.


Please contact your Client Service Administrator at 1 877 786 7227.