The NDC code: why the numbers matter

by Michelle Moran
The NDC code: why the numbers matter

Even if you are not a medical professional, it’s imperative, as an educated consumer, to be able to identify the medication you are prescribed. There is no need to suspect the suggestions of your doctor; after all, he or she is the professional you put in charge of your health. But, when it comes to taking certain medications, doctors can overlook some of our previous experiences, so why not learn to read those labels on the boxes and make sure we are good to go with what is prescribed, especially if we buy medication over-the-counter.

There are a lot of different versions and manufacturers for the same type of medications. Imagine if you have a cold and you stop by your local pharmacy on your way to home to buy something that will ease the symptoms, but there are so many products to choose from, how do you decide?

Well, for a little bit more information and transparency when it comes to meds, there is the NDC, but what exactly is that?

What is the NDC number?

To understand the meaning and function of this code, let us first start by explaining what the NDC stands for. This code is not some new and big program language, nor some big secret for the chosen ones, it is something we should all know about and could benefit from. NDC is an abbreviation for NATIONAL DRUG CODE. While it sounds big and informative, this name tag doesn’t tell us too much about its function, so, what kind of code exactly is this?

The National Drug Code is a unique set of numbers that identify different medications, manufacturers, strengths, dosages, and packaging. To put it this way, it is sort of like a social security number for your medication, except it is open for everybody to see it.

This 10 or 11-digit number is used only in the United States, and not worldwide, so sadly you wouldn’t find it in other countries, although that would be very convenient and practical.

Deciphering the code

10 to 11-digits, you say?

The NDC code: why the numbers matter

Yes, we know, big numbers can be scary, but it is like the saying: fear comes from the unknown. And what’s even scarier is having no information about those pills you just bought. So, to conquer the unknown let us dig into the numbers and try to understand them - let’s talk about the NDC number format!

This code is formed by three segments, each telling us different information about the product: the labeler, the product, and its specifics, and the packaging. The labeler code tells us about the manufacturer, the company, the distributor or even the repackager. The second one refers to the dosage form (liquid, pills, etc.) and the strength, while the last part of the code refers to the size and type of the commercial package. There are 4 to 5 digits for the labeler code, 3 to 4 digits for the product code and 1 or 2 for the package.

For example 12345 – 101 – 50

  • 12345: the labeler (company)
  • 101: (what type of drug it is)
  • 50: Packaging (size, form)

The labeler code is given by the FDA, while the other two are given by the company itself.

So, now that you are familiar with the NDC format, we should jump to how to use it and where to find it.

The NDC lookup

Now the only question left to be answered is where is the NDC data stored and how can you get to it?

The NDC number can be found on packages, inside the boxes or it can be found online. On the FDA’s website, there is a national drug code directory with a searchable database of NDC; all you need is to enter three characters to find what you are looking for.

The other way around is to visit the website or download their app to your smartphone, and you can choose to enter the code or the name of the medication in the search bar and with that obtain more information about the product.

The NDC code: why the numbers matter

In the end, it is important to note that not ALL drugs have their NDC. The ones they do are the OTC (over-the-counter drugs), drugs on prescriptions and insulin packages and those that are submitted by electronic form. Reasons for which some drugs may not be included in the NDC directory can be that they do not belong to the group of drugs listed above, or that the manufacturer has not provided all the information or has noticed the FDA that the medication is not available to the trade market anymore.


Our products are not only comfortable and attractive, but they are also NDC coded for protection. We are also 100% transparent about the materials and ingredients we use on our products because we think that a person must know exactly what they are buying, especially when it comes to health products. We are very proud when you choose our products for your skin and health because then we know that we gained your trust and that our relationship is based on facts and information.

After all, we feel that everybody should have the freedom to choose for themselves and that is why being transparent and honest is our one number one policy.


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