Drug Benefit Supplement FAQs - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Drug Benefit Supplement FAQs


Show Answer Who does the DBS apply to?

The DBS, combined with the Alberta Health Drug Benefit List (DBL), lists eligible prescription drugs and products available to Albertans who are covered under programs sponsored by the Alberta Government.

More information on the DBL, is found on the Alberta Health website.

Show Answer What does the DBS contain?

The DBS contains a list of eligible prescription drugs which take into consideration the unique needs of clients of benefit programs sponsored by the Alberta Government. These prescription drugs are in addition to the more than 3,700 products listed in the DBL.

Show Answer How do I find out if a prescription drug or product is covered under programs sponsored by the Alberta Government?

Search the DBS first To confirm the spelling of the product, check the alphabetical list of products on page 55 of the DBS. Once spelling is confirmed, proceed to search the DBS. For assistance, read the search steps and tips.

  1. Search the DBL second If the product is not found in the publication, it may be in the larger DBL publication. Refer to the search steps and tips.
  2. Search the recent additions to the AHWDBL third If you still do not find the drug product in one of these locations, check any Additions to the AHWDBL that have been issued since the last Quarterly Update.
  3. If you still cannot find it, contact your pharmacist or physician.
  4. Last

If you are an AISH, Income Support, Alberta Adult Health Benefit or Children’s Services client, contact your worker and they will look into it.

If you are an Alberta Child Health Benefit client, contact the Alberta Child Health Benefit program.

Show Answer What do the abbreviations and bolding in the listings mean?

Refer to the legend (page 2) in the DBL for the explanations. These publications are intended for use primarily by professional health care practitioners such as pharmacists and physicians.

Show Answer What do the prices in the DBS mean?

The prices listed in the DBS are based on the manufacturers' responses to a Request for Quotation for the period of time during which the Supplement is effective. The pricing information reflects the drug material per unit cost only and does not reflect the dispensing fee claimed by your pharmacist. It is presented for information purposes only.

If the medication you need is within an "interchangeable" grouping of medications (with the same active ingredients, dosage and form), the program may pay only up to the Least Cost Alternative (LCA) price, if one has been established for that grouping. In these cases, the LCA price appears in bold text. For more information, see the Price Policy of the DBL.

In some cases, Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) pricing is established for a specific drug product or selected group of interchangeable drug products. For more information, see Price Policy.

Show Answer What is an LCA?

The Least Cost Alternative, or LCA, price is the lowest unit cost established for a drug product within a set of interchangeable drug products. The LCA price policy is applied to selected interchangeable groups as identified in the list. The Alberta government-sponsored drug programs, which follow the LCA price policy, will pay the Actual Acquisition Cost (AAC) of the drug material to a maximum of the LCA price.

Show Answer Why are some prices bolded?

The bolded prices represent the Least Cost Alternative (LCA) price.

Show Answer How does the Special Authorization process work?

If your physician has prescribed a medication that is covered only through Special Authorization, your physician must complete the appropriate Drug Special Authorization Request form and fax or mail that form to Alberta Blue Cross for review. Information about the request will be ready within three working days of Alberta Blue Cross receiving it.

Show Answer How do I find out the status of my Special Authorization request?

Call Alberta Blue Cross Customer Services at 780‑498‑8000 (Edmonton and area), 403‑234‑9666 (Calgary) or 1‑800‑661‑6995 (toll-free from anywhere in Canada) to confirm the status of the Special Authorization request.

Your pharmacist may be able to tell you if the request has been approved. If not, the assessment process may not be complete. If more information is required for further assessment of the request, your physician will be contacted. If the request is declined, Alberta Blue Cross will send a letter to you and your physician.

Show Answer Are there other medications that are restricted as benefits?

Yes. Some selected devices or drug products are eligible benefits with restrictions in the DBL and DBS. For these products, a "Restricted Benefit" comment, displayed in the list after the ingredient name or specific strength of the ingredient, explains the restriction. For more information, refer to Restricted Benefits of the DBS and DBL.

Show Answer What should I do if the medication I need is not listed in the DBS or DBL?

If the drug product is not listed anywhere in the DBS or the entire DBL or associated publications, it generally will not be provided as a benefit under the applicable government-sponsored drug program. In these cases the patient may want to contact his or her physician for an alternative sponsored medication.

Show Answer How are drug products approved for inclusion in the DBS and DBL?

The Alberta Health and Wellness Expert Committee on Drug Evaluation and Therapeutics makes recommendations on the DBL. The Minister of Health and Wellness makes the final decisions on changes after reviewing the recommendations of the Expert Committee and Alberta Health and Wellness. Check the drug review process section of the DBL for more information.

The Alberta Government makes the final decisions on changes for their programs. Consideration is given to the potential impact the Expert Committee recommendations may have on their programs, in the context of applicable Regulations. Select products which are not reviewed by the Expert Committee for consideration in the DBL may be recommended for listing in the DBS (e.g. select Nutritional products are listed in the DBS). In those cases where a drug is handled differently between government programs, the product will be published in the DBS.

Show Answer How often are there product changes to the DBS and DBL?

The DBS is published with the DBL on an annual basis, effective April 1, with scheduled Quarterly Updates for July 1, October 1 and January 1 or periodically in Additions to the AHWDBL.

For your convenience, the current DBS, and Summary of Changes are posted on this site. To reflect changes made since April 1, the Internet version of the entire DBL is also posted through Alberta Health and Wellness' Web site and refreshed every quarter (July, October and January).

Show Answer How is Alberta Blue Cross involved with the DBS and DBL?

Alberta Blue Cross administers the prescription drug benefits sponsored by Alberta Health and Wellness, Alberta Human Services and Alberta Seniors and Community Supports; and prepares these publications for distribution to physicians, pharmacists, manufacturers and others.

Show Answer How can I obtain printed copies of the DBS and DBL publications?

Printed versions of the Alberta Health and Wellness Drug Benefit List and Alberta Human Services Drug Benefit Supplement, including Quarterly Updates, are available from Alberta Blue Cross:

Alberta Blue Cross
10009 108 Street NW
Edmonton AB T5J 3C5

There is a fee to obtain printed copies. Contact an Alberta Blue Cross representative to find out costs.

Show Answer Who do I contact if I have more questions about prescription drug benefits in the DBS and the DBL?

  • If you are receiving Income Support, AAHB or AISH, or are a Children and Youth Services client contact your pharmacist or physician.
  • If you are covered under the Alberta Child Health Benefit program, contact the Alberta Child Health Benefit Program.
  • If you are inquiring about the status of a Special Authorization Request, contact Alberta Blue Cross at 780‑498‑8000 (Edmonton and area), 403‑234‑9666 (Calgary) or 1‑800‑661‑6995 (toll-free from anywhere else in Alberta).
  • Pharmacy service providers may call Alberta Blue Cross pharmacy services representatives at 780‑498‑8370 or 1‑800‑361‑9632.
  • Email.
Created: 2005-02-23
Modified: 2007-03-12
PID: 2087