Dataset PharmaCare

Data Provider (source):

BC Ministry of Health


PharmaCare is BC's public drug insurance program that assists BC residents in paying for eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies. Please note: if you need data from 1996 onwards you should request PharmaNet data. PharmaCare is still available for those needing prescription information prior to January 1st, 1996. 

Public drug insurance program 
Type of Data (select all that apply):
Health Care and Health Services 
Data Collection Method (select all that apply):
Individual Level Data 
Identifiers used for linkage:
Personal Health Number, First Name, Date of birth, Gender, Postal Code 
Access requiredments and conditions for Researchers and Projects:

Access Requirements and Conditions for the Researcher:

  • Details on the requirements for data access via PopData BC are available here:

Access Requirements and Conditions for the Research Project:

Access Process:

Population Data BC's Data Access Unit:  

Only data on prescription drugs paid for under the PharmaCare program are included in the PharmaCare data; these are a subset of the prescriptions issued in BC. A list of fields availble is available on PopData’s website:


Prescription drug use below the deductible level does not appear in the PharmaCare data. Drugs given to hospital inpatients are not included in the PharmaCare data.

Data is available from:
January 1, 1986 to January 1, 1995.  
More Information (including references):

Data Changes Over Time

Until May 1, 2003, the PharmaCare program consisted of seven separate coverage plans, some targeting specific subsets of the population, such as seniors, long-term care residents or social services clients, and one catastrophic plan for everyone not otherwise covered. These plans offered relatively comprehensive coverage for some groups such as senior citizens, and fixed-deductible catastrophic coverage for others. On May 1, 2003 the Fair PharmaCare plan was introduced, combining two of the former major plans, the universal catastrophic plan and the seniors' plan, into one new plan with deductibles based on family net income. These coverage changes under the PharmaCare program mean that after May 1, 2003, the data captured by PharmaCare have changed.Prescription drug use below the deductible levels does not appear in the PharmaCare data, but drug use over the deductible does appear. Thus, after May 2003, a smaller proportion of the population has comprehensive data in the PharmaCare system. For example, one can no longer easily study drug use by seniors, as only a subset of their drug prescriptions appear in the data - those obtained after they have reached their family deductible for the year. Fair PharmaCare is based on family rather than individual net income. This means that one high drug use family member may pull a family across the financial threshold, so that even a first prescription for other family members may be recorded in the data. Important Additional Information PharmaNet (as opposed to PharmaCare) is a province-wide network that links all BC pharmacies to a central set of data systems. It supports drug dispensing, drug monitoring and claims processing. The PharmaNet system contains data related to both medications dispensed and PharmaCare claims. All prescription medications dispensed by community pharmacies in BC are recorded in the PharmaNet system. Practitioner IDs in the PharmaCare data files held by Population Data BC are not currently linkable to the practitioner IDs in the PharmaNet data files. References More information on the PharmaCare program and the Fair PharmaCare plan is available on the BC Ministry of Health Services website at: More information on PharmaNet is available at:

[2017-01-12 12:33] Jim Mintha: Edited by Jim Mintha (jim) [2018-12-18 13:55] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2018-12-18 13:55] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2018-12-18 13:56] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2018-12-18 13:57] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2019-02-07 09:14] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2019-02-07 09:14] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring) [2019-03-13 11:48] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring)