Accessing Immuno-Oncology Treatments in Canada

Updated: March 24, 2017

Currently, there are several ways that patients across Canada can access immuno-oncology treatments:

  1. Clinical Trials
    Clinical trials are recruiting across Canada in many major cancer centres. Many of these trials are exploring combinations of treatments including an immuno-oncology treatment. These clinical trials will help doctors understand WHO will benefit from immuno-oncology and who will likely not benefit. If you need more information about clinical trials in your province, or even in neighbouring provinces, please call Kidney Cancer Canada at 1 (866) 598-7166 or e-mail us at

  2. Opdivo™ (nivolumab)
    This treatment has been approved for use by Health Canada and the pan Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) has recommended Opdivo™ for reimbursement by the provinces as a 2nd line treatment. See pCODR recommendation report). The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) has reached a pricing agreemeent with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Individual provinces are now determining if they will list this treatment on their provincial formularies. See announcement.

    In Quebec INESSS has added Opdivo to the Liste Établissemenst – Médicament d’exception for reimbursement as 2nd line treatment for advanced kidney cancer.  See Extract Notice to the Minister (March 15, 2017 in French)

    Some private health benefits program will cover the cost, so check with your provider. You can also use Bristol-Myers Squibb's Access to Hope program by calling 1-877-967-6626. It can provide patients help with navigation and coordination of benefits to access this treatment.

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Yukon

Please note that immuno-oncology treatments are still very new and many questions remain. If you would like to learn more about how these treatments work, their side effects, and open questions, please see: (Website produced in conjunction with Kidney Cancer Canada by the International Kidney Cancer Coalition).

Other medications for kidney cancer are broadly available across Canada. Eligibility differs slightly according to your province. For more information on access to all Health-Canada approved medications for kidney cancer, click here.

As always, if you have any questions about access to treatments or quality care for kidney cancer in Canada, please feel free to call us and we will provide you with current information applicable to your province.