PharmaNet data set

Data source: BC Ministry of Health


Date range

January 1, 1996 to present date
Data is provided by calendar year


The PharmaNet system is an online, real-time system that captures all prescriptions for drugs and medical supplies dispensed from community pharmacies in BC as well as prescriptions dispensed from hospital outpatient pharmacies for patient use at home.   In addition, physicians may record medications provided to patients during an office, clinic or emergency department visit.  The recording of medications by physicians is not mandatory at this time; therefore this data is not complete.

PharmaNet supports drug dispensing, drug monitoring and claims processing. The PharmaNet system contains data related to both medications dispensed and PharmaCare claims.


Variables available

Both Core and Non-Core fields are available for this data set.

Core vs. Non-Core Data

  • Core Data: Some BC Ministry of Health data sets available through PopData and HDPBC are called ‘Core Data’. A Core Data set is a standardized ‘bundle’ of commonly requested variables. A Core Data set may not include ALL the variables available in the data set. For example, some Core Data variables, such as geography or organisational codes, are suppressed to meet privacy legislation requirements.
  • Non-Core Data: Non-Core Data are variables that are NOT included in the standardized Core Data set. Non-Core Data is available for request as an addition to the Core Data set.

For the majority of DARs, requesting access to Core Data ONLY may make the data access approval process quicker and may expedite data provision. Data requests that include Non-Core Data will be subject to regular rather than expedited processes, both for application review and data provisioning.

Please note that the overall data access request is subject to meeting ALL of the Five SAFEs requirements. For more detail on the Five SAFEs, visit the Eligibility and the Five SAFES model page of our website.

download PharmaNet all available variables (pdf)


Data update schedule

For BC, our PharmaNet data usually has a 3-month lag.

Approximate data update schedule Complete data up to:
January  September 30th
April  December 31st 
July March 31st 
October  June 30th 

Please note: Our data update schedule depends on when these data are made available to us by the data provider, so the update schedule is an estimation only.

  • All prescription medications and supplies dispensed by community pharmacies in BC
  • Prescriptions dispensed from hospital outpatient pharmacies for patient use at home
  • Medications provided to patients during a physician office, clinic or emergency department visit (not mandatory at this time)
  • Patient demographic data: Personal Health Number, name, address and date of birth, reported drug allergies
  • Drug information and drug interaction evaluations
  • PharmaCare and patient paid prescription claim information for drugs, dispensing fees, special services fees
  • Medications administered to patients when admitted to hospital
  • Drugs dispensed to hospital in-patients
  • Antiretroviral medications dispensed from the Centre of Excellence in HIV/Aids at St. Paul’s Hospital
  • Medications purchased without a prescription by the patient (e.g. Over the counter medications, herbal products, vitamins)
  • Information regarding third party coverage; as a result it is not apparent if the patient paid amount was paid by the patient or a third party insurer.
  • Third party paid amounts
Data changes over time

The PharmaNet system began on September 1, 1995. Before this time PharmaCare, the province’s public drug insurance program, provided drug claim information. However, PharmaCare only captured the portion of the population eligible for the PharmaCare program and as a result, it is not possible to access comprehensive prescription data for the province prior to 1996.

Quality/accuracy of information/field coding source

PharmaNet data is entered by pharmacists reflecting live transactions.

Important additional information
  • Although the PharmaNet data is not part of the Population Data BC internal holdings at this time, it can be linked to data held by Population Data BC.
  • Practitioner IDs in the PharmaCare data files held by Population Data BC (ie MSP, DAD) are not currently linkable to the practitioner IDs in the PharmaNet data files.

DARs/Projects snapshot

Total number of DARs/Projects currently with PopData:


Last revised May 10th, 2024

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