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Important Changes to the Pediatric BC HEN Program Effective October 1, 2019

Over the coming months, the Pediatric BC HEN Program will be making changes to the referral process, admission criteria and services. The first of these changes will affect patient eligibility for formula and supply coverage under this program.

What is changing?

Effective October 1, 2019, new patients with Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI) will no longer be approved for coverage under the Pediatric BC HEN Program. Patients will existing approvals will continue to receive coverage until cow’s milk protein is tolerated, or until the age of 2 years when milk substitutes are appropriate (whichever comes first).

Why the change?

CMPI is a very common condition affecting 2-7.5% of all children born in British Columbia. Given the high prevalence of this condition, it is not surprising that there has been a steady rise in requests for coverage – 92% increase over the past 5 years. Although this condition now accounts for 83-91% of formula orders from the Pediatric BC HEN Program each month, the number of patients supported through the Program remains far below the expected numbers affected in BC. Support for the existing requests has resulted in progressive and increasing budget deficits, making it clear that providing equitable funding for this indication is not sustainable.

What are the options?

Most affected children are otherwise well, and continue to be healthy after removal of cow’s milk from their diet. Ideally, this is accomplished by breastfeeding, with removal of cow’s milk products from the mother’s diet. However, in some situations when the use of semi-elemental or elemental formulas is required, families can purchase these formulas through local outlets. Some resources for physicians to assist families for whom formula purchase poses a financial burden, or is more difficult to access in the community can be found below.

What other changes are coming?

Many children with complex or chronic medical issues require nutritional support as a part of their care, but have no support for this from any program. The current criteria for the Pediatric BC HEN Program exclude many such children, but will be revised to improve access for these populations. In addition, there will be changes to simplify the referral process, and streamline the provision of products to families. More information will be provided as the process evolves.


Breastfeeding support:

  1. Health Links Dietitian Services
  2. 10 Valuable Tips for Successful Breastfeeding Attachment
  3. 10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed Attachment

Sourcing Semi-elemental & Elemental Formulas:

A list of formula suppliers is available on request to physicians or dietitians.
Please email homepen@vch.ca for this list.

Funding for Families Experiencing Financial Need:

Website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/health-supplements-and-programs/nutritional-supplements

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