drugdocs gather and collate datasets with authoritative information about drugs. Let's start with Structured Product Labels (SPL) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and move on to RxNORM, the drug normalization scheme by the National Institute of Health (NIH). Details on other datasets are at the end of the page.
All suppliers of drugs in the United States must submit information about their offerings to the FDA in a machine-processable Structured Product Labeling (SPL).
Not all SPLs are used for drugdocs. We exclude Animal, Homeopathic and Allergenic labels (Category not covered) and a small number of labels with no drug products or that we can't parse (yet). But the biggest reason for not using labels is that the NIH's RxNORM doesn't cover their contents.
Here's the same information organized by the category of SPL. It shows that drugdocs cover both Over-the-counter (OTC) and Prescription drugs. Notice that a lack of RxNORM coverage is the main reason OTC drugs don't appear in drugdocs.
In the coming months, our focus will be on Prescription labels that are missing from drugdocs.
Most SPLs describe only one drug product - a particular combination of ingredients, route and dose-form from a particular supplier such as Warfarin 1 MG Oral Tablet from Bristol-Myers Squibb - but some describe more than one.
Unlike SPLs, RxNORM, the NIH's drug normalization scheme, doesn't care about the organization supplying a drug. It groups drugs irrespective of supplier, providing three levels of indexing:
- By Ingredient(s)
combinations of active ingredients in drugs collect products with different dose forms ("tablet") and routes of administration ("by mouth"). For example, all products irrespective of supplier whose active ingredient is Warfarin.
Drug searches are often based on ingredients.
By Ingredients+Route+Dose Form
in addition to ingredients, this level uses route ("By mouth") and dose form ("Tablet"). For example, Warfarin Oral Tablet differs from Warfarin Injectable Product.
This combination is the nuance typically licensed by the FDA and gathers therapeutically equivalent products - it is the granularity of a drugdoc.
- By Ingredients+Route+Dose Form+Strength
this level, adds strength and so captures all of the strengths available for a drug. For example, Warfarin 1 MG Oral Tablet.