Normalized names for clinical drugs: RxNorm at 6 years

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2011 Jul-Aug;18(4):441-8. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000116. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Objective: In the 6 years since the National Library of Medicine began monthly releases of RxNorm, RxNorm has become a central resource for communicating about clinical drugs and supporting interoperation between drug vocabularies.

Materials and methods: Built on the idea of a normalized name for a medication at a given level of abstraction, RxNorm provides a set of names and relationships based on 11 different external source vocabularies. The standard model enables decision support to take place for a variety of uses at the appropriate level of abstraction. With the incorporation of National Drug File Reference Terminology (NDF-RT) from the Veterans Administration, even more sophisticated decision support has become possible.

Discussion: While related products such as RxTerms, RxNav, MyMedicationList, and MyRxPad have been recognized as helpful for various uses, tasks such as identifying exactly what is and is not on the market remain a challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Drug Information Services*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • National Library of Medicine (U.S.)
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Vocabulary, Controlled*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations