PharmaCare Drug Shortage Information

Read below about PharmaCare's drug shortages lists and coverage options during a shortage. 

The Current Drug Shortages List (below) gives health professionals and the public up-to-date information about PharmaCare-covered drugs that are in short supply at B.C. community pharmacies. The list does not include shortages of drugs PharmaCare does not cover or drugs dispensed in hospitals.

The list includes the coverage options that PharmaCare has approved to address the shortage, including any replacement (alternative) product that PharmaCare is covering during the shortage.

Drug shortages lists and user guide



Current Drug Shortages List (XLSX) (Updated every business day)

Lists each PharmaCare-covered drug that is currently unavailable in British Columbia (including recently discontinued drugs) and the coverage option PharmaCare has approved. 
The drug listings are sorted by “Last Updated on” (Column J); the most recent updates are at the top of the list. You can re-sort the list using any column.
When a shortage ends, the information is removed from the Current Drug Shortage List and the alternative product(s) returns to its former benefit status.

Resolved Shortages List (XLSX) (Updated every business day)

Lists drug shortages that have ended and for which PharmaCare is no longer covering a replacement product.
The drug listings are sorted by “Last Updated on” (Column J); the most recent updates are at the top of the list. You can re-sort the list using any column.

Drug Shortage Lists User Guide (PDF, 516KB)

Column descriptions, definitions, and tips for finding information quickly in the files above.

What is a drug shortage?

A drug shortage happens when demand exceeds supply — when a drug manufacturer or distributor cannot supply enough of a drug to fill prescriptions.

A drug shortage can result from various supply and demand causes, including manufacturing issues, distribution issues (including importation) and product discontinuations.

Shortages happen fairly regularly. Most drug shortages are temporary, but permanent shortages may occur when a drug is discontinued.

Coverage options during a shortage

When a shortage of a PharmaCare-covered drug is reported, PharmaCare verifies the shortage with the suppliers. Once the shortage is confirmed, PharmaCare reviews coverage options and reports the coverage decision in the Current Drug Shortage List.

Option 1: Coverage for a commercially available replacement drug

In almost all cases, PharmaCare covers an alternative drug during a shortage. The Current Drug Shortages List gives details on the alternate drug. During the shortage, coverage for the alternative drug is the same as it would be for the drug that is in short supply. (TIP: For information on PharmaCare coverage of a specific drug, use the Formulary Search.)

Note: In many cases, PharmaCare already covers several versions of a drug. If one supplier’s version runs short, see Low Cost Alternative Program listings for other versions that PharmaCare already covers.

Option 2: Coverage for a compounded drug

If there is no available alternative drug, PharmaCare may cover a compounded (made-to-order) drug on a last-resort basis. The Current Drug Shortages List will indicate if compounding is covered and whether or not PharmaCare Special Authority (SA) is required.

In all cases, the prescriber will need to write a prescription for the compound. If SA approval is needed, the prescriber will also need to submit a request for PharmaCare Special Authority approval.

Pharmacies: For more information, see the PharmaCare Policy Manual, Section 5.13–Compounded Prescriptions.

Option 3: No alternative available

If there is no alternative drug available and compounding is not covered, the Current Drug Shortages List indicates that patients and their health care providers may need to discuss a therapeutic alternative.

Opening the Excel files

The lists sort with the most recent update at the top. To change the order, click the down arrow at the top of the column.

Some browsers store online files so they load quickly. This means your browser may not open the most recent version. The “last updated” date at the top of the file should be the previous business day. If not, clear your browser’s stored files (cache). Consult your browser help files.

When closing the files, you may be prompted to save changes. Click NO.