Toward a normalized clinical drug knowledge base in China - Applying the RxNorm model to Chinese clinical drugs

Li Wang, Yaoyun Zhang, Min Jiang, Jingqi Wang, Jiancheng Dong, Yun Liu, Cui Tao, Guoqian Jiang, Yi Zhou, Hua Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: In recent years, electronic health record systems have been widely implemented in China, making clinical data available electronically. However, little effort has been devoted to making drug information exchangeable among these systems. This study aimed to build a Normalized Chinese Clinical Drug (NCCD) knowledge base, by applying and extending the information model of RxNorm to Chinese clinical drugs. Methods: Chinese drugs were collected from 4 major resources-China Food and Drug Administration, China Health Insurance Systems, Hospital Pharmacy Systems, and China Pharmacopoeia-for integration and normalization in NCCD. Chemical drugs were normalized using the information model in RxNorm without much change. Chinese patent drugs (i.e., Chinese herbal extracts), however, were represented using an expanded RxNorm model to incorporate the unique characteristics of these drugs. A hybrid approach combining automated natural language processing technologies and manual review by domain experts was then applied to drug attribute extraction, normalization, and further generation of drug names at different specification levels. Lastly, we reported the statistics of NCCD, as well as the evaluation results using several sets of randomly selected Chinese drugs. Results: The current version of NCCD contains 16 976 chemical drugs and 2663 Chinese patent medicines, resulting in 19 639 clinical drugs, 250 267 unique concepts, and 2 602 760 relations. By manual review of 1700 chemical drugs and 250 Chinese patent drugs randomly selected from NCCD (about 10%), we showed that the hybrid approach could achieve an accuracy of 98.60% for drug name extraction and normalization. Using a collection of 500 chemical drugs and 500 Chinese patent drugs from other resources, we showed that NCCD achieved coverages of 97.0% and 90.0% for chemical drugs and Chinese patent drugs, respectively. Conclusion: Evaluation results demonstrated the potential to improve interoperability across various electronic drug systems in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-818
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Chinese Clinical Drug
  • Chinese patent drug
  • Drug knowledge base
  • Drug normalization
  • RxNorm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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