Statistics, Data & Images

Pillbox is one of the largest free databases of prescription and over-the-counter drug information and images, combining data from pharmaceutical companies, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Veterans Affairs.


Data Resources & Workflow

Pillbox combines data and images from pharmaceutical companies, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Veterans Affairs, to create an identification and reference tool for prescription and over-the-counter oral solid dosage medications.

Pillbox also provides access to its data and images as downloadable files and programmatically, via API, to promote the development of innovative solutions to challenges faced by health professionals, patients and caregivers, first responders, law enforcement, researchers, and students.

Pillbox's dataset is maintained using the open source Pillbox Engine. Developed through a partnership with the HHS IDEA Lab's Ignite program, the Pillbox Engine supports processing of the source data and curation/modification of data and images to improve data quality.

Pillbox's primary data source (FDA drug labels) is complex and does not organize information based on individual pills. Additionally, there are very few pill images available in the source data. The Pillbox initiative has focused on restructuring the source data, incorporating data from other related data sets, and creating a library of pill images.


Always consult with a pharmacist or physician when you have any questions or concerns about the information related to medications.


  • Why doesn't every pill in Pillbox have an image?

    Pillbox only contains images which were either submitted by pharmaceutical companies to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the drug label submission process or created through pill photography programs at the National Library of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Pillbox also provides data and images as a service; therefore Pillbox may only contain images that may be downloaded and freely used.

  • Why do some images have a different background?

    Pillbox contains pills photographed by both the National Library of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • Why does the color I select sometimes not match the pills that are displayed?

    Each pharmaceutical company assigns a color to their pills, choosing from the list provided by the Food and Drug Administration. This is a subjective decision and can create inconsistent results when viewing large numbers of pills. If you don't find the pill you're looking for when you search with a color such as red, try searching for similar colors, such as yellow, orange, or brown. We're working on ways to make color search more reliable.

  • How do I search for a pill with multiple colors?

    Pillbox only allows searching by one color at a time. During Pillbox's development we found that searching with multiple colors didn't make identifying an unknown pill easier. This is because of many of the same reasons as in the previous question about colors not matching. Many pills have more than one color. When appropriate, NLM modifies the color information provided by the drug labeling company to help you more easily identify that pill.

  • Are the imprint, shape, color, size, and score values in Pillbox 100% accurate?

    For records where there is an image, the National Library of Medicine checks the pill's physical characteristics information and make corrections when appropriate. However, errors are still present in the drug labeling data. The NLM is working with the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers to identify errors and correct them. If you see a value that appears to be incorrect, please contact us.

  • What is score?

    Score is the number of pieces a pill could be broken into, if it were split using the score lines present on the pill. For example, a round pill with a single score line would be broken into two pieces; therefore, it has a score value of 2. A square with two score lines in a cross pattern would be broken into four pieces; therefore, it has a score value of 4. A pill with no score lines has a value of 1. Try searching with different score values in Pillbox to see examples.

  • Where can I learn more about the specifications for the FDA's Structured Product Labeling (SPL) criteria?

    The Food and Drug Administration provides guidance to drug labeling companies about how to label the physical characteristics of pills.
    Structured Product Labeling Resources

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