In queries such as this, for example, notice some results include a product_ndc and package_ndc, while others include a NDC in the product_description. Some include no NDC identifier in any field.

Is there a way to reliably extract product_ndc and package_ndc and/or have NDC included in the product_description for every result in an Enforcement Report? Currently, it seems like about 1 in 10 results include any NDC identifier.

My question is similar to this one posted last week.


After consulting with the person who manages this dataset it appears that the NDC identified is pulled directly from the products packaging. The NDC is not however always available with the product and it appears that the most common reason is that the drug in question is being compounded by a licensed pharmacist or under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist which alters the ingredients to tailor them for the patient.

  • First off, thanks for looking in to this. This is really interesting as I assumed all compounds - rivaroxaban, for example - were assigned a unique identifier (NDC) once they come in to the market. I also assumed every version (extended release, capsule form, etc) and brand (Pfizer, Walgreens generic, etc.) would each have their own NDC, making every drug and every individual version of the drug available to the public, identifiable. – user3133498 Oct 28 '15 at 12:21
  • But I guess it works the other way around? Products come to market and a NDC is created and added to the physical packaging (only sometimes) and then FDA (or at least openFDA) gets the identifier from a physical package labeling (this is what I understand from your answer). – user3133498 Oct 28 '15 at 12:28
  • If I'm not understanding the way NDC's work, please let me know. If I am, do you know, then, what the difference is between "package_ndc" and "product_ndc" and why a NDC is sometimes added to the "product_description" field in the Enforcement Reports. I wouldn't think these same fields exist on a physical package label so there must be some determination made by FDA about how to categorize the NDC. Also, if NDC is not a reliable, unique identifier of every product available on the market, does one exist? And is that accessible through openFDA? – user3133498 Oct 28 '15 at 12:28

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