The provincial government has reinstated funding for a University of British Columbia program that independently assesses the effectiveness and safety of drugs covered under the provincial Pharmacare program.

The province suspended the contracts for the Therapeutics Initiative in June 2012 while it conducted an investigation into potential privacy breaches involving the medical records of thousands of B.C. residents.

Then-health minster Margaret McDiarmid revealed seven ministry employees had been fired or suspended for allegedly passing the personal health records of millions of British Columbians to contracted researchers on unencrypted computer memory sticks and flash drives.

Now the the Health Ministry says all of the recommendations from privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham have been put in place, as well as the recommendations from a data security review by Deloitte.

Among the changes, 280 ministry personnel have received mandatory privacy and data security training.

Beginning later this fall, all contractors and researchers using ministry data will have to have similar training, and random audits will be conducted on how researchers use health data.

UBC welcomed the announcement, saying the program will resume with improved protection for patient privacy.

NDP leader Adrian Dix also applauded the decision, saying the program has become a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical companies, but it should survive because it saves money and lives.