What To Know About Drugs And Biologicals NSN

For proper management and utilization of manufactured products there must be standardization. Failure to do so will lead to non-uniformity and wastage in the long-run. Take for instance, during the Second World War. 

The United States military had no properly laid down way of managing the resources that they had. Thus some departments had a surplus of merchandise while others were lacking. There was a lack of interoperability considering that there were some similar components with different names. 

The result was under-utilization of the available resources and wastage in some instances. Later on, with the creation of the National Stock Number (NSN) things changed. Here is more information on drugs and biologicals NSN among other things.

What is it?

It is an acronym for National Stock Number or NATO Stock Number. The second reference was brought about by the adoption of the system by NATO members. In 1949, the United States Department of Defense came up with the Federal Stock Number (FSN). 

This was aimed at creating a standardized pool of items used in the military that can be identified in a uniform manner so as to avoid the experiences of the Second World War in terms of resource utilization. 

It was an 11-digit numeric code. In 1974, two more numbers were added to it after the first four digits to represent the particular country of origin. This resulted in the creation of the currently known NSN.

How does it look?

It is a 13-digit numeric code created based on various factors. The first four digits represent the category under which the item falls. Thus the first four digits of all products of the same class will be the same. The two digits that follow represent the country that applied for the NSN. The last seven digits are sequential and unique to each number.

How is it obtained?

The process is almost the same for all countries considering that the assignment can only be done by the USA DLA Information Service. The difference is that there are different bodies involved depending on the country. 

In the USA, the request goes directly to the assignment agency. However, in NATO states the codification bureau of that particular country has to first contact the NSPA that in turn relays the request to the USA DLA Information Service. Countries that are not members of NATO but want to use the system get allocated a NATO Codification Bureau (NCB) code for their use.

It is also important to note that the requests are made by authorized parties such as the military, federal, and civil bodies. Thus the manufacturers and suppliers of the products are not liable for such requests. 

The NSN is assigned after a thorough review of the item to find out its attributes, performance, price, and other valuable information. This is then used to allocate the Federal Supply Class. The information is stored in the Federal Logistics Information System (FLIS). 

The requests are made when there are new products that are not in stock. See this link to read more on how NSNs are obtained 

What are the uses?

NSN is very important and has lots of uses across various industries. Here are some of the uses.

  • Effective management

It allows for the creation of a centralized pool of information that contains vital data about the items that are in stock. Such an inventory makes management effective considering the reduced downtime on procurement and distribution. The whole life cycle of the item can be tracked right from manufacture to when it is disposed of. It also enhances accountability.

  • Interoperability

It allows for sharing of resources among various departments thus enabling efficient utilization. This has in turn resulted in a great reduction of operation costs in comparison to the traditional approach. 

  • Proper disposal

Some drugs and biologicals are toxic when exposed. Thus they need to be handled carefully and properly disposed of upon expiry. NSN helps label such products accordingly for effective handling and tracking upon expiry to be disposed of correctly.

  • Information

It creates a hub of important information that is safeguarded and can only be accessed by authorized groups. For instance, information such as the price of a particular drug comes in handy when negotiating contracts. Also, having a list of different manufacturers ensures a steady supply of any given item even when a particular manufacturer stops their production. Click here to find out more.


The drugs and biologicals sector is one of the many beneficiaries of the NSN system. The technique provides a reliable and efficient system of labeling and identifying items for proper management. 

By doing so it allows the implementation of important aspects such as interoperability and acquisition of useful information about the merchandise. This serves to reduce the cost of production and operation. 

It facilitates the tracking of drugs and biologicals through all the stages. This includes manufacture, acquisition, distribution, use, expiry, and even disposal. The information can also be updated as need be to keep up with the changes.



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