Data Curation

How often do you update DrugBank?

DrugBank is updated on a daily basis. The DrugBank downloads are released quarterly. If you need more frequent updates, please contact us.

I found an error in a drug entry. Can you fix it?

Please use our contact form to submit an error report. If you can, please include references for the corrected information.

You are missing a drug, can you add it?

Yes, please let us know if you find any missing drugs through our contact form.


How can I open the DrugBank .xml file?

One common source of confusion is that some people expect the .xml file to be a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file, which it is not. It can't be opened in Excel, so the data needs to be either opened with an XML viewer or extracted from it using an XML-processing library like Or you can take a look at using XPath to query the file here:

Custom exports in different formats can be requested for users with a commercial or academic license; please contact us to acquire one.

How do I cite DrugBank?

You can learn more about citing DrugBank here. Generally, please cite the latest publication, unless you are referencing specific details from older publications.

Is it ok to use an image of a chemical structure for our web page/publication/poster?

For small molecules, yes. It would be appreciated if you added a link to DrugBank or a reference to our latest publication. For biotech drugs, the images originate from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). They have an open standard for reuse of their images so it shouldn't be a problem.

Why is the data not opening in Excel?

The DrugBank data cannot be opened in Excel. Only simple XML data can be opened in Excel, but not a structured one like DrugBank. It is a big dataset with nested structures and is intended for programmatic use.

To export advanced search results in a format that can be read by Microsoft Excel, you will need a commercial or academic license. Please contact us to acquire one.

Using DrugBank Commercially

Can I use DrugBank content in my commercial product or application?

DrugBank is freely available to use in a non-commercial product. Commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation. This means you cannot:

  • Directly sell or profit from the DrugBank Database or from works derived from the DrugBank Database
  • Use the DrugBank Database internally for commercial product development
  • Use the DrugBank Database as a component of a data product or within software to be made commercially available.

The DrugBank Database may be used by individuals, institutions, governments, corporations or other business entities so long as the use itself or any works derived from the use of the DrugBank Database are not intended to generate sales or profit.

If you wish to use to use the DrugBank Database for commercial purposes, please contact us to inquire about a separate agreement.

Can my company use the DrugBank data for internal research use?

This depends on the use case. If you plan on using the DrugBank database with the intention of developing a commercial product, you need to contact us to acquire a license. However, there are cases where using DrugBank data for internal research use is allowed in a commercial setting.

Please contact us and we can discuss your use on a case-by-case basis.

Is it considered commercial use if my group or project is grant-funded?

Use by grant-funded academic groups or using DrugBank data in a grant application is considered non-commercial use and does not require an additional license.

Data Library

Does the Data Library contain all of DrugBank's data?

No, not currently. The Data Library is new and we're doing our best to make everything in our Knowledgebase* viewable in the Library as quickly as possible. If you don't see what you're looking for please get in touch.
*We're constantly updating our Knowledgebase with new and improved research and connections. New data and updates are added on a daily basis.

What is the difference between a Data Package, a Data Module, and a Submodule?

The easiest way to think about them is as a hierarchical structure.

Data Packages (which are created for specific use cases) are made up of Data Modules (which are thematically organized data), which are made up of Submodules (specific data tables, entries, lists, etc.).

For example:

A Data Package will include a number of relevant Data Modules.
A Data Module can be included in a variety of different Data Packages.

Can I access data directly from the Data Library?

The Data Library is a great way to browse and explore different packages and options. At this time all subscriptions and data downloads must go through our sales team.

Can I purchase individual Data Modules and create my own Data Package?

We've put a great deal of work into creating packages to help you work smarter and faster. However, if our packages aren't meeting your needs we'd be happy to work with you to find a solution. Chat with sales to get started.

What formats is DrugBank data available in?

The majority of our data is available in JSON, SQL, CSV, and XML. To check the available formats of the packages you are interested in visit that package's Formats and Documentation section in the Data Library.

Where does DrugBank source its data from?

We draw from and link to all reputable data sources including: RxNorm, MedDRa, FDA, EMA, Health Canada,, PDB, Snomed, among others.

Additionally, DrugBank utilizes advanced NLP and data synthesis to draw from resources such as monographs, clinical trials, publications, etc. We also have an entire team of medical experts who are responsible for authoring and verifying emerging data.


I am currently taking drug X, what are the side effects?

We do not offer any advice on drug treatment.

What is the definition of an approved drug?

A drug that has been approved in at least one jurisdiction anywhere, at some point in time. Even if it was once approved, but it is currently withdrawn.

Where can I buy this drug?

We don't offer any information about where you can purchase or obtain drugs.

How does DrugBank comply with FAIR Principles?

Our technology, data products, and company ethos are designed to be in sync with FAIR Data Principles. Specifically:

Findable: DrugBank assigns unique identifiers to drugs and many other concepts (salts, conditions, clinical trials, targets, etc), making it easy to find and refer to specific data. Additionally we provide ample metadata where applicable (timestamps, versions, etc). DrugBank data is also integrated and regularly updated with many other online databases and datasets, including resources from the EBI, NIH, and WHO. DrugBank is fully indexed within search engines, and additionally implements search engine crawler hints, continually providing updates to search engines to inform of updated content.

Accessible: The DrugBank website is online and accessible in all modern desktop and mobile browsers. We maintain redirected URLs within this website dating back to the initial website launch in 2006. Once an account has been registered for downloads, we also provide documentation on specialized URLs that can be used to access the latest versions of download files, as well as example scripts and command line examples (cURL) to download the data programmatically. Additionally, our CC0 1.0 Universal datasets geared towards cross-linking and re-use are available without requiring registration.

Interoperable: DrugBank data downloads are available in various forms of XML, CSV, and JSON - common standards for data formatting, enabling straightforward integration of the data with other bioinformatics tools and databases. DrugBank also links to several standard ontologies and classifications systems, such as MeSH, ATC classification, and RxNorm. This enables rapid mapping from external resources or research data into DrugBank concepts.

Reusable: The use of a CC BY-NC 4.0 license in our academic free datasets is designed to encourage reusability in research and non-commercial application development. The CC BY-NC 4.0 license encourages our academic users to “copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format”, as well as “adapt, remix, transform, and build upon the material”. Additionally, the CC0 1.0 Universal (public domain) datasets are specifically designed for cross-linking and re-use. We also receive significant feedback from our academic community, which we utilize to continually improve the reusability of our data (for example, correcting match terms or links to ontologies).