COVID-19 Ontario Prescription Drug Utilization Tool

Drug Utilization in Ontario during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed pressure on Canada’s healthcare system and resources, including prescription drugs. Media reports of drug stockpiling, together with anecdotal reports of an uptick in commonly used medications and off-label use of medications to treat COVID-19, have highlighted additional pressures on a drug supply already under strain. The pandemic has also changed how patients use and receive some medications.

As the risks of COVID-19 evolve, so too will the impact of drug shortages on patients, healthcare professionals, and the healthcare system. To confirm or refute these reports and characterize the impact of COVID-19 on drug prescribing, the ODPRN has developed an interactive COVID-19 Ontario Prescription Drug Utilization Tool to provide public access to data on drug utilization in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The information included in the tool was captured using the Ontario Drug Benefit database, which contains records of dispensed drugs and pharmacy services that are reimbursed through Ontario’s publicly-funded drug program, and the Ontario Narcotics Monitoring System, which contains all prescriptions for narcotic, controlled, and monitored substances dispensed from community pharmacies in Ontario. This tool will be updated as new data becomes available.

Building on the shifting drug utilization trends observed in this tool and other ongoing projects, the authors of this reflective piece have offered their perspectives on considering these trends in future observational drug‐related studies: Choppy waters: The importance of accounting for shifting drug utilization during the COVID‐19 pandemic in future observational drug‐related studies

How to use this tool:

  • Click on the tool below to view weekly trends on the number and rate of individuals who were dispensed a prescription drug or received a pharmacy service.
  • Data can additionally be filtered by year.

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Data last updated: March 26, 2024

Suggested Citation:

Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. COVID-19 Ontario Prescription Drug Utilization Tool. Toronto, ON; Updated March 2024. Available from:

For questions about this tool or to access data, please contact us at

Please note that this report is NOT COMPLETE and is still in progress. Click below if you would like to continue.