Upcoming changes to the WHODrug Global files

UMC is rolling out three modifications to the WHODrug Global .txt and .csv files in order to meet the evolving needs of the diverse WHODrug user community as well as regulatory expectations and standards. The modifications will all be introduced in the March 2022 release of WHODrug Global and are explained in detail below.

The modifications

Expansion of the substance field length

Description: The substance name field will be extended to accommodate a more granular, and thereby more character consuming naming of substances. In the B3 format (BNA.csv/txt), the substance name field will be extended from 45 to 250 characters. In the C3-format (SUN.csv/txt) the substance name field will be extended from 110 to 250 characters).
Implemented in release: March 2022  
Points to consider:Affects both the B3 and C3 formats

Standardisation of the casing in the WHODrug Global C3 format

Description: Based on user requests, UMC will unify the casing of drug names in the C3 format. This modification effectively standardises the appearance of drug names bearing the same drug code (all drug names with the same drug code will have the same case).
Implemented in release: March 2022
Points to consider: This modification will not affect any IDs (i.e. the MPID or the drug code) and will not affect users of the B3 format at all. (Please note that this modification was announced previously, but was pushed forward to March 2022, to streamline the rollout.)

Updated country codes and names

Description: A few country codes and country names will be updated according to the ISO 3166-1 standard.
Implemented in release: March 2022
Points to consider: Primarily affects the C3 format, but can also affect the B3 format, depending on implementation.


All software system vendors approved within the WHODrug Vendor Programme have been contacted and informed about the upcoming modifications. Please contact your software system vendor directly for questions related to the impact of the modifications in your tool(s).

WHODrug Insight will be automatically updated to reflect the relevant modifications on 1 March 2022.

Sample files & support

Sample files with examples of modified WHODrug records are available and can be requested. Please contact WHODrug@who-umc.org  to request access to the sample files or for any questions.


Last modified on: September 23, 2021