We are trying to link the openFDA drug data with similar databases from other countries, and struggling to find a set of identifiers that will allow us to match drugs in different formats.

Can't see a field for the WHO's ATC code in the FDA data, and there are many other unique identifiers - which is best for international comparisons?

  • Are talking about legal or illegal drugs? worldwide or just a continent?
    – nelruk
    May 21, 2015 at 17:23
  • What countries in particular?
    – Nicolas Raoul
    May 25, 2015 at 8:27
  • Ideally we would like to be able to allow our users to find drugs (medicines, not narcotics) which are available/approved in their country. Many countries have online search tools for their regulatory authorities, and the USA seems the most advanced in terms of making the data available and accessible to all. Ideally we would like to query the EMA database as well as the major pharmaceutical markets in multiple countries. May 26, 2015 at 13:41
  • I suggest contacting members of the International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE) pharmacoepi.org I would be glad to query the Pediatrics SIG to see if anyone has done this in pediatric pharmacoepidemiology.
    – T Lasky
    May 27, 2015 at 14:35
  • Also, found this on the OpenFDA website - good background to have for this question.Different datasets use different drug identifiers—brand name, generic name, NDA, NDC, etc. It can be difficult to find the same drug in different datasets. And some identifiers, like pharmacologic class, are useful search filters but not available in all datasets. OpenFDA features harmonization on drug identifiers, to make it easier to both search for and understand the drug products returned by API queries. These additional fields are attached to records in all endpoints, if applicable.
    – T Lasky
    May 27, 2015 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


This is perhaps a bit late, but I'm interested in this as well and have made some progress.

With respect to drugs, the WHO has a lookup service for ATC codes: http://www.whocc.no/atc_ddd_index/

They also have a listing of International Non-proprietary Names: http://www.who.int/medicines/services/inn/en/

Various countries call these different things, but this is usually the drug's generic name in the US and Canada.

With respect to adverse reaction terminology, this is controlled through the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities, MedDRA: www.ich.org/products/meddra.html

And there are a few academic efforts as well to pull all this together: www.drugbank.ca

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