Drug Classification

Drugs are grouped or classified in various ways. The NDC groups drugs by the manufacturer or repackager. For health interventions, a classification by function is more important. The following are some of the ways we groups drugs.

Code Description Sample
GCN Generic code number ("GCN") was created by First Data Bank to uniquely identify a combination of ingredient, strength, form, and route. The GCN is a 5-digit number, assigned sequentially.
16033
MORPHINE SULFATE (10MG/ML RAPI-JECT)
16034
MORPHINE SULFATE (50MG/ML RAPI-JECT)
25793
WARFARIN SODIUM (5MG TABLET)
25795
WARFARIN SODIUM (7.5MG TABLET)
25790
WARFARIN SODIUM (10MG TABLET)
HIC The Hierarchical Ingredient Code ("HIC") was created by First Data Bank. The HIC is a 6-character code that identifies the drug. Because the coding is hierarchical, part of the HIC may be used to group drugs together.
Characters Information Example
1 Organ system nervous system
1-2 pharmacological class analgesics
1-3 therapeutic class narcotic analgesics
1-4 ingredient (base) morphine
1-6 ingredient (specific); characters 5-6 indicate the salt or ester when applicable and are blank otherwise morphine sulfate
FDB supplies a list of up to 9 HICs (the "HICL") for each drug product. The first HIC in the list is normally the most active ingredient and the one we are most often concerned with. (An exception may occur when a drug has multiple uses. In this case, special HIC may be used to reclassify the ingredient.)
H3AD
MORPHINE
H3ADSU
MORPHINE SULFATE
M9LC
WARFARIN
M9LCNA
WARFARIN SODIUM
HIC3/GC3 First Data Bank's specific therapeutic class consists of the first 3 characters of the Hierarchical Ingredient Code. For this reason it is called the "HIC3". It is also abbreviated as "GC3".
H3A
narcotic analgesics
GXC ProVantage created the GXC to group prescription drugs by route of administration. The GXC is an 8 character code.
Characters Information
1-6 Ingredient
7-8 Form and route codes
The GXC is based on First Data Bank's specific therapeutic class (HIC) but is modified specifically for drug utilization review and extended with the form and route codes.

The first 6 characters of the GXC usually, but not necessarily, match the primary HIC for the drug.
H3ADSU21
MORPHINE SULFATE
H3ADSU13
MORPHINE SULFATE
M9LC  11
WARFARIN
M9LCNA11
WARFARIN SODIUM
RXC ProVantage created the RXC as a way to classify prescription drugs by the active ingredient. It ignores the manufacturer and the strength of the product. The RXC is a 8 character code but is typically suffixed by the constant ".RXC".

The RXC is based on First Data Bank's specific therapeutic class, but is modified specifically for drug utilization review.
H3ADXXXX.RXC
MORPHINE SULFATE
H3ADZXXX.RXC
MORPHINE SULFATE
H3AERXXX.RXC
HYDROMORPHONE HYDROCHLORIDE
M9LAXXXX.RXC
DICUMAROL
M9LCXXXX.RXC
WARFARIN
M9LCZXXX.RXC
WARFARIN SODIUM
PXC ProVantage created the PXC as a way to classify prescription drugs. The PXC is based on First Data Bank's specific therapeutic class but is modified specifically for drug utilization review.

The PXC usually, but not always, matches the HIC3 for the drug. The PXC usually, but not always, matches the first part of the RXC.
H3A
NARCOTIC ANALGESICS
M9L
ANTICOAGULANTS ORAL

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