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The NHS Dictionary of Medicines and Devices (dm+d) has been developed and delivered through a partnership between NHS Connecting for Health and the NHS Business Services Authority.

The dm+d provides a unique product identifier for medicines and devices used in primary and secondary care. Using this unique identifier will facilitate more efficient processing and reimbursement of prescriptions, electronic Prescribing and the electronic Patient Record. The coding also provides substantial opportunities in audit capability.

The dm+d is a subset of SNOMED CT (Systemised Nomenclature of Medicine) and thus is recognised as an NHS standard.


The two important elements of the dm+d describe:

  • products as concepts (called virtual medicinal products or VMP) e.g. atenolol 50mg tablets or latex catheter 20 gauge
  • and real products (called actual medicinal products or AMP) e.g. atenolol 50 mg tablets made by AAH pharmaceuticals or Tenormin LS 50 mg tablets from AstraZeneca

Each of these elements can be expressed as packs as well e.g. atenolol 50mg tablets 28 pack (called a virtual medicinal product pack or VMPP). If we add the manufacturer we can now get a real world pack (called Actual Medicinal Product Pack).

How is this used? An example would be where a GP wants to prescribe atenolol to his patient. On his computer he would identify the virtual medicinal product pack, atenolol 50mg tablets, 28 pack. This would be written on the prescription. Note that he has not specified a manufacturer.

On receiving the prescription the pharmacist would fill it with the version of the product he has available e.g. atenolol 50mg tablet, 28 pack made by AAH Pharmaceuticals. This would be the actual medicinal product pack, AMPP, and would allow the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), Prescription Services to know exactly what was dispensed.

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