Heart Failure is a human condition that is characterized by several easily identifiable symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty breathing and in its later stages, gurgled breathing. My mother and my mother-in-law both suffered from heart failure during their decline. Analogous to heart failure in humans is a condition of an identifier system that is near the end of its useful life that we can call “identifier failure”. At the end of November, a new FDA final guidance called “Requirements for Foreign and Domestic Establishment Registration and Listing for Human Drugs, Including Drugs That Are Regulated Under a Biologics License Application, and Animal Drugs” went into effect. Buried deep within this 200+ page document is the official announcement that signaled the National Drug Code (NDC) identifier system is now afflicted with this end-stage condition. The NDC won’t last long now, and there is no longer any excuse for inaction. The need for a replacement is now urgent. Continue reading NDC Nearing Its End, Afflicted by ‘Identifier Failure’
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created the concept of the National Drug Code (NDC) in 1969 to “…provide an identification system in computer language to permit automated processing of drug data by Government agencies, drug manufacturers and distributors, hospitals, and insurance companies” (from 34 FR 11157, July 2, 1969). (I can’t find a copy online of the original Federal Register article from 1969 so I’m relying on a more recent article that references it.) Those of us in the U.S. pharma supply chain make use of NDC’s every day, but very few of us know the history of their development, exactly how the numbers are composed and what they mean. I’ll try to explain all of that and provide sources for further reading.
HISTORY OF THE NDC
The NDC was initially a voluntary identifier (see references at the end of this essay). We all know how that would have turned out (for more on that thought, see my recent essay “Should Regulations Dictate Technology?“) so in 1972 the FDA made the NDC mandatory for all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Manufacturers were required to obtain a “Labeler Code” from the FDA, construct their NDC’s using that code as the base and print the NDC number on drug packages. Barcodes were not required by the FDA back then.
From the quote in the first paragraph above you can see that the FDA intended the NDC to be Continue reading Anatomy Of The National Drug Code