Drug-naming standard for EHRs expanded

The RxNorm standard clinical drug vocabulary produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has added more accurate and complete connections between national drug codes (NDCs)--the product identifiers assigned by American manufacturers and packagers of drugs--and standard nonproprietary names of medications recommended for use in electronic health records (EHRs).

Providing new connections between NDC product codes and RxNorm standard names and identifiers will have many potential uses within an individual patient's EHR, according to the NLM. These include the use of NDCs on medicine bottles to speed up standard data entry or to trigger an alert written in the RxNorm standard to prevent a medication error.

No single source currently contains all the NDCs for all medications marketed nationwide. RxNorm, though, has included NDCs provided by the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Multum and Gold Standard drug information sources for several years.

Starting with its Feb. 7 release, RxNorm now includes a revised, filtered version of the NDC data that segregates obsolete NDCs from those currently in the marketplace. It also includes--for the first time--First DataBank's set of NDCs, which are widely used in the healthcare industry.

In a statement, Douglas Fridsma, MD, PhD, head of Standards and Interoperability with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said First DataBank's contribution to RxNorm are "a great example of the private sector taking action to ensure that health data standards have the coverage they need to support meaningful use of electronic health records."

For more information:
- see the NLM release