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Dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d)

The dm+d is a dictionary of descriptions and codes which represent medicines and devices in use across the NHS.  The dm+d data is refreshed weekly and contains a huge variety of information, including:

  • whether a product will be reimbursed by NHSBSA, if submitted for reimbursement by a dispensing contractor
  • the indicative price of each pack of a product (where a price is maintained)
  • current and discontinued products and packs available from manufacturers and suppliers

Data in the dm+d is updated weekly.  You can search and access the content via the dm+d browser. 

Go to the dm+d browser

The NHSBSA and an NHS Digital team of terminologists are making changes to the dm+d and SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension. The changes are to improve the alignment between content and release cycles.

Read UK Medicines Terminology Futures - NHS Digital for further details.

If you have any queries about these changes, email nhsdigital.ukmeds@nhs.net

About the dm+d - the NHS medicines standard

The dm+d is maintained by ourselves with support from NHS Digital.

The dm+d provides:

  • the recognised NHS standard for uniquely identifying medicines and medical devices used in patient care
  • clear, consistent recording and communication of information relating to medicines and devices used in patient care
  • consistency in how medicines and medical devices are expressed through a robust published editorial policy

The Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) has approved the NHS dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) as the NHS standard for communicating medicines information.

The dm+d Standard

The NHS dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) standard (SCCI0052) is an 'Interoperability' standard.

This makes sure that diverse clinical systems can effectively 'talk' to each other using a common coded language for the transfer of medicines information.

The dm+d provides this common language using identifying codes with associated written descriptions.

The scope of the content of the standard is currently for licensed medicines only.

Other content in the dm+d, such as medical devices, are excluded in terms of complying with the standard. However, users can use all the content of the dm+d if it supports their needs.

How to comply with the standard

Detailed requirements are available in the SCCI0052 dm+d Specification document.

Where information about medicines used in the care of a NHS patient needs to be transferred electronically from one system to another, those systems must be able to output and receive the dm+d codes.

The systems must be able to 'translate' the code and display the associated written description.

When to comply with the standard

Trusts must implement NHS standards in accordance with the NHS Standard Contract and the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

However, relevant organisations should consider implementing this standard earlier than this if major updates are made to existing systems or new procurements are undertaken with system suppliers.

Responsibility for the approval of information standards passed from the Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care (ISB) to the Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI). The dm+d Standard has been uplifted to a SCCI approved standard accordingly. SCCI has been replaced by the Data Coordination Board (DCB).

dm+d webinars

We have developed a series of short webinars that last no longer than 5 to 10 minutes each, providing information about the dm+d and the SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension.

Webinars are available to view now:

1) Introduction to the dm+d

This short 10 minute webinar provides a brief introduction to the dm+d, what it is and why we need it.

2) Downloading the dm+d and SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension files from the TRUD server

This short 10 minute webinar demonstrates how to locate and download the dm+d and SNOMED CT Extension files from the TRUD server.

3) The dm+d 5-box model unravelled

This short webinar will give you further insight into the 5-box model.

dm+d data model and governance

The dm+d has 5 basic components and each are represented as a box in the dm+d data model diagram (PDF: 493KB).

Each component describes a product at different levels of granularity to support various use cases. This makes up the dm+d model.

A more in depth description of the dm+d data model can be found in the NHS dictionary of medicines and devices Data Model (PDF: 750KB).

The dm+d governance structures mean that the Programme Board has ultimate responsibility for the dm+d.

The Content Committee is responsible for content within the dm+d, including maintaining the editorial policy and evaluating and approving any major changes. Clinical and professional representatives can also be called upon to act in an advisory capacity to support the Programme Board and Content Committee.

Introduction to SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension

SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension

The NHS dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) was developed as a stand-alone product which could be implemented in systems independent of the strategic clinical terminology solution the NHS was committed to - SNOMED CT® (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms).

However, it was still important that the dm+d was integrated with the SNOMED CT solution and the SNOMED CT content and identifiers were therefore used. All unique identifiers used in the dm+d are SNOMED CT codes.

Clinical systems that do not need to provide users with access to clinical terms can use the dm+d alone to give access to standard codes and terms for medicines and devices.

All the dm+d concepts have a SNOMED CT code allocated, but some codes that are valid on the dm+d may be inactive in the SNOMED CT data.

Not all attributes and values populated on the dm+d are present in the SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension data. You can find more information by viewing the Medications Masterclass: SNOMED vs dm+d presentation on YouTube.

The dm+d data must be used by systems when information about medicines used in the care of NHS patients is transferred electronically from one system to another. This is to ensure compliance with the SCCI0052 standard.

Documentation relating to the SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension can be found at the SNOMED CT home page.

You can register to gain access to the download data at NHS Digital TRUD.

The documentation for a particular SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension data release can be found at SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension Release.

SNOMED and SNOMED CT are registered trademarks of the SNOMED International

dm+d release files through TRUD

The dm+d and its supporting files and information are released through TRUD (Technology Reference data Update Distribution). TRUD is hosted by NHS Digital and provides the distribution and licensing mechanism for NHS terminologies (including dm+d). Release dates and other communications can be found on the TRUD site.

dm+d Implementation Guidance (Primary Care) (PDF: 1MB) explains how dm+d might be implemented in a primary care system to support processes such as the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).

 NHSBSA dm+d subpack

Weekly updates of the subpack contain:

  • dm+d TRUD release schedule - a description of TRUD release ID, extraction date, distribution date and week number
  • dm+d in XML format - this also includes a mapping file between AMPP and GTIN
  • Historic code data file - a list of medications that have had their SNOMED changed more than once.

Each weekly update also includes a PDF file to communicate news to users of the dm+d. The communications file summarises changes to the dm+d data and provides advance notice of future changes.

NHSBSA dm+d Supplementary subpack

Weekly updates of the subpack contain dm+d supplementary XML files. We maintain a list of ATC classifications and pseudo-BNF codes (PDF: 264KB) linked to products prescribed in Primary Care. They are not an officially endorsed dm+d product.

Implementation guidance

The dm+d description guidance

dm+d description guidance (Word: 264KB) explains how the dm+d descriptions might be implemented by system suppliers and programmes.

Individual programme requirements may provide more detailed information.

Primary care implementation guidance

dm+d Implementation Guide (Primary Care) v4 (PDF: 872KB) explains how the dm+d might be implemented in a primary care system to support processes such as the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).

Secondary care implementation guidance

dm+d Implementation Guide (Secondary Care) (PDF: 1.1MB) explains how the dm+d might be implemented in hospital-based ePrescribing systems. It contains information about the dm+d, published data files, supporting information, and a prescribing model which may be used to enable dose-based prescribing.

To implement the approach detailed within the guide, you will also need to refer to a number of files available in the UK Drug Bonus Files and ePrescribing subset files of the latest SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension release. These can be downloaded from TRUD.

Read about how to get a TRUD account.

Secondary care guidance on mapping to 'Specials' in dm+d (PDF: 167KB) explains how local and system supplier drug dictionary ‘Specials’ descriptions can be mapped to the dm+d.

Health Education England's elearning programme

If you're part of a team in a secondary care setting, Health Education England has a series of eLearning sessions to help you implement dm+d. The eLearning sessions cover key areas of the dm+d, including:

  • what the dm+d is
  • why you should adopt the dm+d standard
  • how to adopt the dm+d standard

Additional guidance

You can find more information and answers to common queries on the Publications and Resources page on the Delen website.

NHS Digital Terminology Server

dm+d data is now available on the NHS Digital Terminology Server and as downloaded files in TRUD

Read about how to access the NHS Digital Terminology Server.

Read about how to get a TRUD account.

A dm+d historic data file is available to download from TRUD. The file lets users find medications that have had their SNOMED changed more than once. The file is not available on the NHS Digital Terminology Server until Spring 2023. If you have any queries about the file, email nhsdigital.ukmeds@nhs.net

Supporting documents​​​​​​

More guidance on the dm+d code system structure and how to query the dm+d data is available on the dm+d code system structure guide. 

dm+d code system structure guide (Word: 35KB)

Support is available on the NHS Digital Terminology Server - NHS Digital page of the NHS Digital website. 

Contact dm+d or raise an issue

Raise an issue

If you have a serious complaint, are dissatisfied with the service or believe there is a major safety issue, risk or something clinically unacceptable then please complete an issues form and email it to nhsbsa.dmdenquiries@nhs.net.

dm+d issues form (PDF: 176KB)dm+d issues form (Word: 62KB)

You can view all issues on the dm+d issues log (Excel: 56KB)

The log is updated regularly to show progress towards resolving the issue.View the process for managing enquiries and issues (PDF: 103KB).

Contact us

For help using the NHSBSA dm+d browser:

Telephone: 0300 330 1349 or 0191 279 0568

Find out about call charges

For enquiries about changes to the data and the editorial policy:

Email: nhsbsa.dmdenquiries@nhs.net.

For technical queries about the dm+d XML files and TRUD and for enquiries about the SNOMED CT UK Drug Extension:

Email: information.standards@nhs.net

Any queries about changes to dm+d in 2023:

Email: nhsdigital.ukmeds@nhs.net