PharmaNet

PharmaNet is the province-wide network that links all B.C. pharmacies to a central data system since 1995. It is administered by the Ministry of Health. Prescriptions dispensed in a community pharmacy in B.C. are entered into PharmaNet.

Note: This page is for the general public. For information specific to health care professionals, see PharmaNet for Practitioners.

PharmaNet users include community pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, emergency departments, hospitals, community health practices, and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of BC.

Health care practitioners must be authorized by the Ministry of Health to access PharmaNet. They sign terms of access that ensure confidentiality.

PharmaNet:

  • Protects you from drug interactions and dosage errors
  • Lets pharmacists and prescribers know if a cheaper, equally effective PharmaCare benefit is available to you
  • Helps prevent accidental duplication of prescriptions, and prescription fraud

When you present your prescription at a B.C. community pharmacy, the pharmacist enters the details into PharmaNet.

PharmaNet:

  • Checks if you are eligible for PharmaCare coverage
  • Immediately determines how much of the prescription cost PharmaCare covers (if any). For those registered for the Fair PharmaCare plan, PharmaNet determines how much will go towards your deductible and family maximum

Your PharmaNet profile includes:

  • Demographic information such as your Personal Health Number, name, address and date of birth 
  • A medication history that includes:
    • all prescription drugs dispensed at community pharmacies (or community health practices authorized to dispense medications), including how much of the cost PharmaCare paid
    • non-prescription medications you take (entered at your and/or your pharmacist’s discretion)
    • prosthetic and orthotic devices and medical supplies that are eligible for PharmaCare coverage
    • any reported drug allergies and clinical conditions 
    • drug information and drug interaction evaluations (how your medication interacts with any of your other active medications)
  • Claims information including eligibility, coverage and deductibles (but not your income)

Unless dispensed from a community pharmacy, PharmaNet does not record prescription drugs that you receive:

  • While in a hospital or designated mental health centre (though emergency department physicians may update your record with drugs they provided, your allergies, or adverse drug reactions)
  • Through the BC Cancer Agency (i.e. oncology medications such as chemotherapy drugs)
  • Through the BC Transplant Society (i.e. transplant-related drugs)
  • Through the BC Renal Agency (i.e. drugs for kidney dialysis) 
  • As samples from your health care practitioner (though prescribers may add a note to your record about drugs they provide)

There are several ways to get a copy of your PharmaNet profile. The quickest way is online, through Health Gateway, though in some circumstances, you may need to have it provided directly by the Ministry of Health.

Health Gateway

In Health Gateway, you can download it and print off your PharmaNet profile. This will usually be sufficient for a third party (e.g., a lawyer). The profile goes back as far as 1995.

See PharmaNet for Practitioners, which lists the contents of a PharmaNet profile.

Your local pharmacy

You can request a copy of your PharmaNet profile, going back 14 months, at your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will submit a request, through their software, to the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry will mail the information directly to you. (Since PharmaNet records each time someone accesses your profile outside of filling a prescription, it will show when the Ministry printed it off for you.)

The Ministry of Health

You can request a copy directly from the Ministry of Health. The profile will go as far as 1995. Fill out HLTH 5551 - Consent for Release of PharmaNet Patient Record (PDF, 998KB). Do not fill out Patient Representative section unless it applies. For the Recipient, enter a pharmacy of your choice. Include the date range of records you would like, as well as the reason for the request (e.g., for your own information, for litigation, for vaccine records). Someone (friend, neighbour, etc.) will need to witness your signature.

The Ministry will mail your record to the pharmacy you identify on the form. It may take up to a month for it to arrive at the pharmacy. The pharmacy will call you to pick up the record. They will confirm your identity before giving it to you, so bring ID.

For a third-party recipient (e.g. litigation)

You may authorize the Ministry of Health to release your PharmaNet medication record to a specified recipient for a specific purpose, such as litigation. Sign the HLTH 5551 - Consent for Release of PharmaNet Patient Record (PDF, 998KB). Do not fill out Patient Representative section unless it applies. Fax or mail the completed form to the PharmaNet Profiles Services Team.

Note: Third parties will often accept a copy downloaded from Health Gateway, which is your quickest option.

Note to third parties: If you are a third party authorized to request a PharmaNet patient record, be aware that as of November 1, 2020, records are being sent by email as encrypted PDF attachments. You will need a PDF reader (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader) to open the attachment. To register for this service, email the PharmaNet Profiles Team with a list of requestors and their preferred email address. A unique passcode to open encrypted attachments will be sent to each requestor separately by fax. Please note, we can only accept one requestor email address per patient record request.

The PharmaNet Profiles Services Team is available at:

Email: PharmaNetProfiles@gov.bc.ca
Phone toll-free: 1-855-952-1432
Fax: 250-953-0432
Mail: PO Box 9652 STN PROV GOVT
          Victoria, BC, V8W9P4

PharmaNet users are given access only to the information they need to fulfill their duties as health care providers.

B.C. community pharmacists

Pharmacists can access your medication information only in the performance of their professional duties. They can view your:

  • Demographic information
  • Medication history up to the past 14 months
  • Claims history (the portion of an individual drug’s cost that was paid for by PharmaCare), only for dispenses at that pharmacy

If a pharmacist accesses your medication history without dispensing a prescription, the pharmacist must keep a record of the reason for the access. Access is monitored, and inappropriate access is investigated.

Private community health practitioners

Physicians licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC in community health practices (such as private practices, group practices, walk-in clinics, and diagnostic and treatment centres) and nurse practitioners licensed by the College of Registered Nurses of BC  apply for access to PharmaNet.

They can view your:

  • Demographic information
  • Medication history up to the past 14 months

Emergency departments

Practitioners, and staff working on their behalf, in emergency departments can view medication histories and update them with information about adverse drug reactions, allergies, clinical conditions and/or drugs provided by the emergency department.

Hospitals and designated mental health facilities

Access to PharmaNet is available to authorized practitioners and pharmacists working in hospitals and designated mental health facilities. They have access to patient medication histories.

Providers of medical devices and supplies

Some non-pharmaceutical suppliers (such as prosthetic and orthotic suppliers, ostomy suppliers, mastectomy suppliers, insulin pump vendors and medical supply stores) can submit claims to PharmaCare.

These providers can view:

  • Demographic information 
  • Claims history only for the claims that they submitted

Device providers do not have access to medication histories.

Licensing bodies and the Ministry of Health

College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, BC College of Nurses and Midwives, College of Pharmacists of BC—These licensing bodies have access to PharmaNet patient and drug data only as required for the monitoring of prescribing practices of their members.

Ministry of Health and Health Insurance BC—The Ministry of Health and Health Insurance BC have access on a strict need-to-know basis to the least information necessary to carry out their duties.

PharmaNet complies with the B.C. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Pharmaceutical Services Act. It is subject to strict privacy and security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access and protect the information of B.C. residents.

Before a person can use PharmaNet, they must:

  • Be granted access as an authorized user
  • Sign a confidentiality agreement, and 
  • Provide a unique identification code whenever they access PharmaNet. 

Furthermore, PharmaNet users are granted access only to the type of information they require to perform their work. For example:

  • Health care practitioners cannot view your financial information (i.e. your Fair PharmaCare deductible and family maximum, how close you are to meeting those, or any information used to arrive at your level of PharmaCare coverage). Only the Ministry of Health and Health Insurance BC can view that information for the purpose of administering your PharmaCare coverage
  • Medical device providers have access only to the history of claims they have submitted for you. They don’t have access to your medication history
 

Can I limit access to my PharmaNet record? (Protective word)

You can limit access to your information by attaching a protective word (password) to your PharmaNet record. With the protective word in place, authorized health care practitioners can access your medication history only if you share the protective word with them.

However, if you become unconscious or unable to provide your protective word, hospital and emergency department practitioners may have it removed if they determine access to your PharmaNet patient profile is necessary for safe and effective treatment.

If your protective word is removed in an emergency, you will be notified in writing. You can then ask your pharmacist or Health Insurance BC (HIBC) to attach a new protective word to your record.

Learn how to apply, remove or change a protective word.

No. All prescription medications dispensed by community pharmacies in B.C. must be recorded on the PharmaNet system. By recording every prescription dispensed in the province, PharmaNet protects British Columbians from adverse reactions to medications and serve to reduce prescription fraud. The system also ensures that claims are paid depending on your PharmaCare plan.

 

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