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Filing Your Return  -> Non-prescription Medications

Non-Prescription Medications

The Federal 2008 Budget included changes to the wording of the Income Tax Act that prevents non-prescription drugs from being eligible for the medical expense tax credit when they are purchased after February 26, 2008.

Prior to February 26, 2008, if the non-prescription drugs were prescribed by a doctor, and "recorded by a pharmacist" in the same manner as prescription drugs, they may be considered eligible medical expenses.  An April 2007 Tax Court case, Breger v. The Queen, quoted the following:

"I cannot accept the suggestion that, in the case of a medication that is prescribed by a physician but is purchased at a pharmacy off the shelf, a sales slip or invoice from the pharmacist would be a sufficient "recording" to meet the statutory requirement. A record in that form cannot meet the apparent function of the recording requirement. There must be a record kept by the pharmacist in his or her capacity as pharmacist. That necessarily excludes substances, however useful or beneficial, that are purchased off the shelf."

The revision to the Income Tax Act s. 118.2(2)(n) provides that for drugs to be eligible medical expenses, they must be drugs "that can lawfully be acquired for use by the patient only if prescribed by a medical practitioner or dentist".  Thus, if the patient is able to purchase the drugs off the shelf, the cost will not be an eligible medical expense.

Court cases prior to the Breger case had ruled that non-prescription drugs were not eligible medical expenses.

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Revised: October 26, 2023

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