The NDC database offers drugs listed by NDC number, proprietary name, active ingredient, or firm name. The database includes all prescriptions with approval by the FDA. Some over-the-counter drugs are included. Drugs will not be listed if the FDA has been notified that the drug is no longer available.

The NDC database is updated at the end of each quarter. Electronic files are available for obtaining the latest information and updates. The national drug code is a 10-digit identification series in three segments. The first segment is the labeler or vendor. The second is the product code and the third is the package size. It is not effective to search the database with the third criteria. The package size is too general.

Using NDC Database Information

Some agencies prefer to display the NDC code as an 11-digit number for the sake of consistency. This is done by adding leading zeros in any of the three segments. The breakdown is 4-4-2, 5-4-1, or 5-3-2. An example of the first series, 4-4-2, as an 11-digit number would change to 5-4-2, 4-5-2, or 4-4-3. The location of the additional zero depends on the system used.

The NDC database is an essential element in the process of obtaining a prescription from the local pharmacy. The local pharmacy will have a database with personal identifiers such as name, address, physician, and insurance provider. There is a code identifying the pharmacy plan recognized by the carrier. The carrier will utilize the information from the National Drug Code to determine the medications to be approved for reimbursement on the insured.