Evaluating drug-drug interaction information in NDF-RT and DrugBank

J Biomed Semantics. 2015 May 11;6:19. doi: 10.1186/s13326-015-0018-0. eCollection 2015.


Background: There is limited consensus among drug information sources on what constitutes drug-drug interactions (DDIs). We investigate DDI information in two publicly available sources, NDF-RT and DrugBank.

Methods: We acquire drug-drug interactions from NDF-RT and DrugBank, and normalize the drugs to RxNorm. We compare interactions between NDF-RT and DrugBank and evaluate both sources against a reference list of 360 critical interactions. We compare the interactions detected with NDF-RT and DrugBank on a large prescription dataset. Finally, we contrast NDF-RT and DrugBank against a commercial source.

Results: DrugBank drug-drug interaction information has limited overlap with NDF-RT (24-30%). The coverage of the reference set by both sources is about 60%. Applied to a prescription dataset of 35.5M pairs of co-prescribed systemic clinical drugs, NDF-RT would have identified 808,285 interactions, while DrugBank would have identified 1,170,693. Of these, 382,833 are common. The commercial source Multum provides a more systematic coverage (91%) of the reference list.

Conclusions: This investigation confirms the limited overlap of DDI information between NDF-RT and DrugBank. Additional research is required to determine which source is better, if any. Usage of any of these sources in clinical decision systems should disclose these limitations.

Keywords: Drug-drug interactions; DrugBank; NDF-RT.