Pharmacy services covered by PharmaCare
Last updated: July 10, 2023
PharmaCare pays pharmacies a fee when they:
- Assess you for a minor ailment or contraception and, when appropriate, write you a prescription
- Change the dose, regimen, or formulation of your medication
- Substitute your medication for a different but similar medication
- Renew your prescription
- Give injections
- Review your medications
- Dispense a prescription (for people with PharmaCare coverage)
The pharmacy must be enrolled as a PharmaCare provider – most B.C. pharmacies are.
This page is about PharmaCare coverage. To read more about how B.C. community pharmacists can help you, visit Pharmacy Services in B.C. You may also be interested in how to read a prescription label and pharmacy receipt.
B.C. residents with a Personal Health Number can be assessed by a pharmacist for many common minor ailments and for contraception. A pharmacist may prescribe you medication, give you self-care advice, or advise you to see another health care professional for further assessment. You won’t pay anything for the service. Full details are available at Pharmacy Services in B.C.
PharmaCare pays pharmacies a set amount to adapt prescriptions for any B.C. resident. There is no charge to you. You do not need to be covered by a PharmaCare plan.
Pharmacies receive a fee when a pharmacist:
- Changes the dose, formulation, or regimen of a prescription (for example, from a tablet to a liquid)
- Makes a therapeutic drug substitution within the same therapeutic class (for example, substituting a generic drug in place of a brand-name drug)
Note: Pharmacists can't change cancer chemotherapy prescriptions or prescriptions for narcotics and controlled drugs.
PharmaCare pays pharmacies a set amount to renew prescriptions for any B.C. resident. There is no charge to you. You do not need to be covered by a PharmaCare plan.
If you are out of medication, your pharmacist may be able to get you more, without a visit to a clinic or physician, if:
- You have been on the same medication at the same dosage for 6 months or longer with no concerns
- Your prescription was issued in the past 24 months, and the prescriber is still practising in B.C.
For an example, see Pavan's story Note: Pharmacists can renew a prescription for narcotics and controlled drugs, but not for more than the quantity originally prescribed
PharmaCare pays pharmacists a set amount to give injections to B.C. residents. There is no charge to you. You do not need to be covered by a PharmaCare plan. However, you may need to pay for the drug being injected if it is not a PharmaCare benefit covered under your plan, or publicly funded.
PharmaCare pays the fee for injections of:
- Publicly funded vaccines, such as the COVID-19 or flu vaccine. There is no cost to you for these vaccines, if you meet the criteria for public funding
- Vaccines such shingles and pneumococcal. You will need to pay for the vaccine itself if it is not publicly funded, or if you don’t meet the criteria for public funding
- Prescribed drugs—except for allergy serums and substances for cosmetic use
PharmaCare does not pay pharmacists to administer travel vaccines or any product designed for patient self-injection (e.g., insulin, low molecular weight heparin).
If you have multiple prescriptions, a pharmacist may be able to meet with you to:
- Create a list of all prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking
- Discuss how the medications are best taken
- Create a medication management plan and a take-home list of your medications
Medication reviews are one-on-one, in-person appointments. You do not pay for the service because PharmaCare covers it. A pharmacy cannot charge you for the service.
You can get a medication review if you have had 5 or more qualifying medications dispensed within the last 6 months.
You must have a clinical (i.e., medical) need for the service. The pharmacist will determine this.
You can have 1 standard review per 6 months and 4 follow-ups within 12 months.
Every time a pharmacy in B.C. fills a prescription, they charge a dispensing fee. PharmaCare covers up to $10.
If you are covered by one of PharmaCare’s 100%-paid plans (Plans C, W, G, F and Z ), the pharmacy cannot charge more than $10 for dispensing, so you would pay nothing for the dispense if your prescription is covered.
If you are covered by Fair PharmaCare, until you meet your family maximum, you pay the pharmacy dispensing fee, and the eligible cost (up to $10) goes toward your deductible and family maximum. Once you meet your deductible, PharmaCare will pay 70% of your eligible dispense costs (i.e., up to $7). Once you have met your family maximum, the pharmacy cannot charge more than PharmaCare covers. Note: Pharmacies charge different dispensing fees. The amount is usually between $5 and $13. You may want to compare pharmacy services and fees.
Sometimes prescriptions are dispensed in multiple small fills, instead of all at once. PharmaCare limits the number of dispensing fees it will cover for frequent dispensing.
For daily fills, PharmaCare will cover 1 dispensing fee per day for up to 3 different medications.
If the fill is for 2 to 27 days, PharmaCare will cover 1 dispensing fee for each fill, for up to 5 different active medications. A medication is “active” if, when the medication is taken as prescribed, at least 1 day of supply remains.
For these dispenses to be covered, your prescriber must order frequent dispensing on the prescription, or if your pharmacist identifies a reason for frequent dispensing, you must sign a form at the pharmacy (shared with your prescriber). If you agree to frequent dispensing, you are agreeing to pay any fees beyond what PharmaCare covers.
Prescription renewal: Pavan's story
Pavan's doctor writes her a prescription for ramipril for 1 year. The pharmacist dispenses 90 capsules at a time. Pavan goes to the pharmacy every 90 days for a refill of 90 capsules.
At the end of 1 year, all prescribed capsules have been dispensed. Pavan knows she should continue on this medication, so she must get the prescription renewed.
She talks to her pharmacist. Since she has been on ramipril at the same dosage and regimen (1 capsule per day) for over 6 months with no concerns about uncontrolled blood pressure, the pharmacist renews her prescription for another year. Pavan gets her first fill of 90 capsules. She will need to get all of her refills at the same pharmacy.
Questions about PharmaCare?
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