B.C. investigating ‘unusual’ activity in PharmaNet system

Probe launched into B.C.'s PharmaNet system

VANCOUVER — Premier Christy Clark is promising a thorough investigation into four incidents that the B.C. government describes as “unusual” activity in its PharmaNet system where unknown people are believed to have accessed personal information.

The Health Ministry says about 7,500 people have had their basic profiles viewed while another 80 or so people have had their recent medication history viewed.

Clark says she is “profoundly disturbed” by the incidents.

The PharmaNet system links all B.C. pharmacies to a central set of data systems and logs every prescription dispensed in the province.

It also maintains basic profiles that include names, addresses, dates of birth, personal health numbers and medication histories.

The ministry says it has started sending letters to notify all patients and doctors affected by the breach and is working with the affected physicians and PharmaNet system vendors to upgrade security measures.

The ministry says it first became aware of the issue last fall and has launched an investigation that involves the Corporate Information and Records Management Office of the Ministry of Finance. The Information and Privacy Commissioner has also been notified.

An independent security review of PharmaNet separate from the investigation is also underway and is scheduled for completion in July.

Clark said Thursday the government will keep those who have been affected apprised of the investigation. 

“You know there are very few things in your life as private as some of the details of the medication that you’re taking, the illnesses you may have experienced. We have an absolute obligation to protect that,” she said.

“That investigation is underway, it will be absolutely thorough and we’ll make sure the results of that are made known.”

The Canadian Press

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