A Primer on Partial GPIs and FDB Supersets

Drug compendia are excellent resources that are used either directly or indirectly by almost all stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry. Two of the leading drug compendia providers are Wolters Kluwer (Medi-Span) and First Databank (FDB). Pharmaceutically equivalent products are those that share the same active ingredient(s), strength/concentration, dosage form, and route of administration. Both compendia group pharmaceutically equivalent products together. Medi-Span groups these products using the 14-character Generic Product Identifier (GPI) field, while FDB groups pharmaceutically equivalent products together using a five-digit Generic Code Number, or GCN. There are some therapeutic categories that drug compendia find challenging to code, and they require procedures outside of the normal categorization process.

Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins, and Devices
What happens to the hundreds, if not thousands, of unique vitamins, nutritional supplements, dietary management products, medical foods, and devices? Do the compendia create unique GPIs and GCNs for each of these slightly different products? The short answer is no. Due to the character-length limitations of GPIs or GCNs, it is impossible for the compendia to assign unique identifiers to each product formulation; thus, partial GPIs and FDB Supersets were born.

Medi-Span refers to partial GPIs as a general description of the product based on the therapeutic classification system. Partial GPIs can be identified and differentiated based on the presence of asterisks before and after the GPI Name, which is essentially the product’s generic name. Examples of GPI Names for partial GPIs include *Nutritional Supplement Caps** and *Blood Pressure Monitoring – Device***. Placing products in a partial GPI indicates to users that products are like one another, albeit not pharmaceutically equivalent. Similarly, FDB has created FDB Supersets, which group similar but not pharmaceutically equivalent products together. This is most commonly seen in the device space, such as with GCN 94200 that groups Medical Supplies and DME (durable medical equipment).

Partial GPIs and FDB Supersets can cause confusion in the marketplace. For organizations doing GPI/GCN crosswalks, it can be difficult to map these products from one compendium to another. When doing a GPI to GCN crosswalk (or a GCN to GPI crosswalk), products with partial GPIs or FDB Supersets may have a one-to-many relationship. Additionally, some physicians may choose to search for products by therapeutic category, and this can prove challenging if a product is in a partial GPI for FDB Superset, due to the vast number of products appearing. Finally, a partial GPI or FDB Superset could serve as an indicator to a payer that a product is not a typical drug and may affect formulary placement and/or coverage.

Understanding partial GPIs and FDB Supersets is important for manufacturers, especially those making vitamins, dietary supplements, medical foods, medical devices, and/or durable medical equipment. Other stakeholders should be familiar with these product identifiers to properly code their systems to ensure the business intent is captured correctly.

Published January 2019

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