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NLM Releases Nearly 1,800 Pill Images

The National Library of Medicine (NLM)  has released about 1,800 new high quality images of solid oral dosage medications. Images were taken at high resolution, but are also available in smaller sizes if desired for certain applications. Researchers and product developers may obtain the images and accompanying metadata via an applications programming interface (API) at NLM also makes the images available for interactive Web searching via its Pillbox and RxNav sites.


“This project builds on NLM’s long history of research and development in image processing,” explained NLM Director Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD. “If history is any guide, many innovators will find interesting applications for this body of images and put them to creative use right away. The new image collection could speed the development of algorithms to identify pills based on photos taken on mobile devices, for example. We will continue to expand the collection,” Dr. Lindberg continued, “encouraging manufacturers to send us more products to be imaged.”


Of the roughly 1,800 pills photographed to date, approximately 400 were provided by manufacturers. The others were purchased through a licensed Maryland pharmacy. NLM estimates that the images cover about 15 percent of the more than 10,000 solid dosage forms of the 4,075 human prescription medications on the US market, and a higher percentage of frequently prescribed medications. /da


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