A survey of population-based drug databases in Canada

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ObjectiveTo identify the population-based drug databases in Canada and to determine their comprehensiveness and accessibility for performing pharmacoepidemiologic and outcomes research.DesignSurvey (four-part mailed questionnaire).SettingPublic and private third-party drug plans across Canada.ParticipantsAll provincial and territorial drug plan or pharmacare managers as well as selected private plan managers including health benefit consultants, group insurers and claims adjudicators/pharmacy benefit managers (CA/PBMs).Outcome measuresPatient, drug and pharmacy information; potential for electronic linkages to other provincial databases (e.g., physician, hospital, vital statistics); accessibility of information; population profile.ResultsOf the 32 recipients of the questionnaire 29 (91 percent) responded and 18 (56 percent) completed the survey. Most databases were reported to contain patient information (e.g., patient identification number, age, sex and medication history) and prescription drug information (e.g., drug identification number, strength, quantity and cost). Six provinces and one territory reported the capability to link to other databases (e.g., hospital and physician databases). One CA/PBM reported some links to selected longterm disability data. All of the government databases except those in British Columbia and the Yukon Territory allowed use of the data for research purposes. Manitoba and Saskatchewan included all residents of the province in their database; the others included selected groups (e.g., residents 65 years of age or older, people on social assistance or people covered by private group insurance).ConclusionA number of public and private population-based databases are available for use in pharmacoepidemiologic and outcomes research.

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