RxNorm, a standardized nomenclature for clinical drugs and drug delivery devices, is produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). In this context, a clinical drug is a pharmaceutical product given to (or taken by) a patient with a therapeutic or diagnostic intent. A drug delivery device is a pack that contains multiple clinical drugs or clinical drugs designed to be administered in a specified sequence. In RxNorm, the name of a clinical drug combines its ingredients, strengths, and/or form.

While ingredient and strength have straightforward meanings, clarification of what is meant by form may be needed. In RxNorm, the form is the physical form in which the drug is administered or is specified to be administered in a prescription or order. The RxNorm clinical drug name does not refer to the size of the package, the form in which the product was manufactured, its form when it arrived at the dispensary or the intended route.

RxNorm's standard names for clinical drugs and drug delivery devices are connected to the varying names of drugs present in many different controlled vocabularies within the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus, including those in commercially available drug information sources. These connections are intended to facilitate interoperability among the computerized systems that record or process data dealing with clinical drugs.

Associated Institutions

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Application Domains
  • Clinical
  • Clinical records
Other Resource Type
Software Subtype
Programming Languages
Operating Systems
Included Components
Dataset Subtype
  • Structured data
Data Model Subtype
  • Flat file
  • Relational
Online Resource Subtype
Knowledge Base Subtype
  • Controlled vocabulary
  • Standards
Intended User Types
  • Clinician
  • Clinical researcher
  • Informatics researcher
  • NLP researcher or developer
  • Software developer

Nelson SJ, Zeng K, Kilbourne J, Powell T, Moore R. Normalized names for clinical drugs: RxNorm at 6 years. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2011 Jul 1;18(4):441-8.

Liu, S, Ma, W, Moore, R, Ganesan, V, Nelson, S. RxNorm: Prescription for electronic drug information exchange. IT Prof. 2005 Sep-Oct;7(5):17-23.

Available Documentation
  • API
  • Web page/HTML documentation