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Understanding the Ambulatory Care Drug Database System

This query system allows you to search for drugs mentioned in the NAMCS and NHAMCS by entry name, by generic name, and by ingredients. It can provide information on drug characteristics including therapeutic class, composition status, prescription status, and control status. It will also give data on frequencies of drug mentions in 2009.

The primary purpose of this system is to facilitate the identification of drug codes used in the NAMCS and NHAMCS by data users. These codes can then be used in the analysis of survey data. The query system is NOT intended to provide quick estimates of drug utilization for the following reasons:

Drugs appear on the database in the following ways:

  1. As drug names (what is actually recorded on the survey instrument by survey respondents, whether a trade name, generic name, or desired therapeutic effect such as "allergy relief");
  2. As generic-equivalent names; and
  3. As ingredient names.

If, for example, a user searches on "Lasix" as a drug name, the query will return information on mentions of Lasix in 2009. However, some physicians or hospital staff recorded this drug as "Furosemide" (the generic name for Lasix) which, in this case, could be found by searching on Furosemide as a drug name (because the drug name reflects what is entered on the survey instrument by the survey participants). On the other hand, some users might start by searching on Furosemide as a drug name (for cases where it was entered this way on the survey forms), but this would not reflect those cases where it was entered as Lasix on the survey forms. Searching on a single term, therefore, would not give the data user a complete picture of the utilization of this substance.

It should also be kept in mind that the generic codes and drug codes are independent of each other. For example, the generic code for Furosemide (d00070) is different than the drug code for Furosemide (13118).

If a data user wished to check all occurrences of the generic substance Furosemide, he or she could search for it as a generic-equivalent name. The result would include all occurrences of the substance whether they had been entered by the physician using the drug name of Lasix or Furosemide. The user can also search for the substance in the ingredient list to get a more complete picture.

For additional assistance using the Ambulatory Care Drug Database System, please contact the Ambulatory Care Statistics Branch at 301-458-4600. Consumer information about specific drugs (including prescription uses, side effects, special precautions, etc.) is available from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists' searchable drug database.

Search the Ambulatory Care Drug Database.