Database of Drug Names

We’re looking for open sources of data for creating a database of drugs ames (official, brand etc). Focus is on clinically approved drugs.

Why? We’ll need a database of drug (names) for Open Trials. We’d obviously like an open database

What data do we want?

  • Official (clinical) name
  • Brand name(s)
  • Translations into other languages (?)
  • Primary manufacturer (?)

So far I’ve found:


WHO DDE (Drug Dictionary Enhanced) - this seems to be the “gold standard”

NIH Drug Portal

Seems to have a reasonable list though may not be comprehensive. Sample page for ABACAVIR SULFATE

Public domain: NLM Copyright Information

FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

Not yet quite clear exactly what data they have.

They have a nice open data site here:

@rufuspollock - check out the following response I posted to this open data stack overflow question asking for a " publicly available API for querying medicine’s descriptions":

@skram thank-you that is really useful - though obviously on a slightly different topic it obviously has very relevant info.

I’ve now added the FDA API and data to the list - btw do you know if you can get the data in bulk from the FDA?

DrugBank ( could also be a candidate, and it’s available in bulk. However, its license is not open in terms of the Open Definition due to its non-commercial restriction.

@rufuspollock As far as I know, the drug data from the FDA would not be available in bulk. The API may be the only way to get it.
This data from the FDA is in bulk but I think it’s mostly technical and chemical information (not exactly the type of data you asked for…)

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@openindia thanks - that’s really useful. It does like the database has a limited amount of info on the actual drug - the main place I can it is the “ReferenceDrug” field on Product but it doesn’t link anywhere (note I have not downloaded the DB yet and looked at it so this is just based on looking at the Entity-Relationship diagram).

Yeah… openFDA does not have a bulk download. A long running request. I DailyMed’s FDA SPL XML will be the easiest place to get the bulk data but it is also messy to work with (highly nested XML)

What’re you looking to do? I might have some other ideas.


@skram in terms of what we wanted that’s listed in the top of this topic and i’ve inlined again here. It would be amazing to get your help in tracking this kind of info down.

For the US market, here’s a bulk download for the National Drug Code Directory and Drugs@FDA Data Files

Lots to go from here. Although, not clearly licensed. Public domain since it’s a product of the federal government? Maybe?

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All that (and much much more) is available for the French market here: Base de données publique des médicaments (base officielle) -

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@okfnvince super useful - thank-you for the link. The dataset there seems a text file - is the data structured and if so what are the exact fields in the dataset and does it cover every drug on the french market?

One problem with focusing on clinically approved drugs is that it doesn’t include any of the drugs that are under investigation as part of the trials.

In addition to NDC and the FDA Structured Product Label data, mentioned below, I’d add Freebase (nice because it’s already linked to a bunch of other stuff, including non-English Wikipedias) and RxNorm

The files and the links between them are all described in “Contenu et format des fichiers téléchargeables de la
base de données publique des médicaments”

Reviving this old thread as it seemed unresolved.

I had wondered if the Iodine API might have been of use. Iodine make use of the FDA drugs list.

"A quick review of the terms of use
Give us credit. Wherever you display Iodine content, you must also link back to Iodine using the link supplied in the API. You must also give us credit, either by prominently displaying our logo or including text that says “Powered by Iodine” or similar. Also, you should never claim ownership, responsibility or sponsorship for Iodine Content.

Be consumer-facing. You must obtain our prior written consent if you want to use Iodine information for non-consumer purposes.
Integrate us to add value. Do not use the API to recreate what Iodine’s own website or mobile apps already offer. If that’s what you’re after, simply link to Iodine or request deeper site integration.

Leave our data and content alone. You may not alter our data or combine it with other data. You may not alter our logo, graphics, or Iodine Content.

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This was another useful link though these conditions would definitely mean this was not open data so would be tough to use.

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I’ve created an issue to track this in the core datasets registry here:

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