Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

The Pharmaceutical Data web tool

The web tool displays the number of initial dispensings by chemical formulation for the years 2018–2022. Data in this web tool were sourced from Health New Zealand's Pharmaceutical Collection, a data warehouse that contains claim and payment information from pharmacists for subsidised dispensings.

About the pharmaceutical data web tool

The Pharmaceutical Data web tool displays summary data on pharmaceuticals that were dispensed in the community and funded by the New Zealand Government.

The data presented is sourced from Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora’s Pharmaceutical Collection and includes data from 2018 to 2022.

Data can be searched and filtered by year of dispensing, medicine (at chemical formulation, chemical, therapeutic group level 2 and therapeutic group level 3) and district (formerly known as district health board) level where the individual was domiciled at the time of dispensing or the district from which the pharmacy is funded.

The data can be downloaded in CSV format.

Impacts of COVID-19 on pharmaceutical dispensings

There were unusual pharmaceutical dispensing patterns in 2020, with a significant increase in the total number of dispensings.

These changes should be considered within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, Pharmac introduced a Pharmaceutical Schedule change that required pharmacies to move to monthly dispensing, rather than all-at-once dispensing, to mitigate the effects of global supply issues that were affecting New Zealand's stock of some medicines.

This change meant that a patient would have to go into a pharmacy three times for a normal 90-day prescription, rather than once. New Zealand returned to normal dispensing for most medicines on 1 August 2020.

Due to the unusual dispensing patterns in 2020, in recent updates to the web tool we have included a quantity variable (Qty).

Quantity data provides information about the number of 'units' of a drug that were given, reporting how much medication someone received rather than how many times they were dispensed that medication.

We recommend that the quantity variable be used together with the dispensing numbers to get a clearer picture of long-term trends in dispensing patterns.

For more information, please refer to the help section on Qty in the web tool’s Home page, or the technical document that can be downloaded from the web tool’s Data page.

Technical information

A technical document is available to accompany the web tool.

The document contains information about key data limitations and guidance on interpreting the data presented, as clinical context, funding, practice and a number of other contextual properties can affect the trends you see. 

The aggregate data presented in the web tool is also available for download as a zipped package of CSV files. The technical notes and data can be downloaded from the Data tab of the web tool.


This web tool presents data to the latest year for which data is available for publication.

We have quality checked the collection, extraction, and reporting of the data presented here.

However, errors can occur. Please contact us through the Data Services team at Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora if you have any concerns regarding any of the data or analyses presented here.

Health NZ makes no warranty, expressed or implied, nor assumes legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or use of the information or data in this tool.

Publishing information

Date of publication:
24 August 2023
Te Whatu Ora. 2023. Pharmaceutical Data web tool (data extracted from the Pharmaceutical Collection on 8 June 2023). Wellington: Ministry of Health.
Ordering information:
Only soft copy available to download
Copyright status: Owned by Te Whatu Ora and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence