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J Biomed Semantics. 2012 Dec 20;3(1):16. doi: 10.1186/2041-1480-3-16.

Profiling structured product labeling with NDF-RT and RxNorm.

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Department of Health Sciences Research, Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.



Structured Product Labeling (SPL) is a document markup standard approved by Health Level Seven (HL7) and adopted by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a mechanism for exchanging drug product information. The SPL drug labels contain rich information about FDA approved clinical drugs. However, the lack of linkage to standard drug ontologies hinders their meaningful use. NDF-RT (National Drug File Reference Terminology) and NLM RxNorm as standard drug ontology were used to standardize and profile the product labels.


In this paper, we present a framework that intends to map SPL drug labels with existing drug ontologies: NDF-RT and RxNorm. We also applied existing categorical annotations from the drug ontologies to classify SPL drug labels into corresponding classes. We established the classification and relevant linkage for SPL drug labels using the following three approaches. First, we retrieved NDF-RT categorical information from the External Pharmacologic Class (EPC) indexing SPLs. Second, we used the RxNorm and NDF-RT mappings to classify and link SPLs with NDF-RT categories. Third, we profiled SPLs using RxNorm term type information. In the implementation process, we employed a Semantic Web technology framework, in which we stored the data sets from NDF-RT and SPLs into a RDF triple store, and executed SPARQL queries to retrieve data from customized SPARQL endpoints. Meanwhile, we imported RxNorm data into MySQL relational database.


In total, 96.0% SPL drug labels were mapped with NDF-RT categories whereas 97.0% SPL drug labels are linked to RxNorm codes. We found that the majority of SPL drug labels are mapped to chemical ingredient concepts in both drug ontologies whereas a relatively small portion of SPL drug labels are mapped to clinical drug concepts.


The profiling outcomes produced by this study would provide useful insights on meaningful use of FDA SPL drug labels in clinical applications through standard drug ontologies such as NDF-RT and RxNorm.

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