Recently, the FDA Division of Drug Information, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research dramatically improved how their NDC search tool data downloads work in response to some complaints they received from… someone. Most notably they:
- Added the NDC Package Code (the NDC-10 code with the dashes) to each row as a distinct field. This is the only field that is unique per row!
- Added the ability to download the results in plain CSV. (Previously you could only get Microsoft Excel files, which is a proprietary data standard)
This makes the download functionality much more useful, and IMHO, that improvement makes the searching generally much more worthwhile.
Data hounds like me just download the entire NDC database which is already available as open data already. But these files use non-standard data formats and require special ETL processing to work with conveniently. Now, you can make useful subsets of the NDC data and then download those subsets in an open standard. Those CSV files will make working with the data in both spreadsheets (other than Excel) and automatic import into databases much easier.
Especially given my recent rant about using simple download formats. I think it is really important to recognize the folks at the FDA who work every day to ensure that medication information is a little more useful to the public.