Recent DrugBank Changes

The DrugBank database has just announced (09 May 2016) more restrictive access conditions including user registration. Not unexpectedly, this has prompted discussion on Twitter and elsewhere (e.g. ThinkLab. including some from the DrugBank team).  We enjoy long-standing contacts with the Wishart group but do not feel it is appropriate to comment per se.  Nevertheless, it does seem appropriate for us to re-state our own position, and also to highlight the overlap in content between different resources. These details are not new, but have just not been juxtaposed before.

The British Pharmacological Society (BPS) has committed support for GtoPdb until 2020 and the Wellcome Trust support for GtoImmuPdb until 2018. Needless to say the management team (between, IUPHAR, BPS and the University of Edinburgh) are engaged in sustainability planning beyond those dates. We have also just applied for UK ELIXIR Node consideration.

In accordance to the commitment to openness of both funders, GtoPdb (and GtoImmuPdb when it is available) are licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) and contents under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.  Thus, beyond appropriate attribution as a source, anyone can do anything with our content (even if we have seen minimal attributions of just a web-link to the deprecated IUPHAR-DB!). Also for the record, we have no intention of using a log-in but we do track usage and downloads since these are an important aspect of our own impact assessment.

As has been described, bioactivity databases are complex and each has unique coverage and lacunae (see We cannot therefore indicate for whom GtoPdb might at least partially substitute for DrugBank but we can point out some overlaps and differences. Firstly we should declare that, while we have been funded to capture human drug target relationships, we generally do not curate anti-infectives (although for various reasons we do have a few entries and it does not preclude doing this under new funding). Secondly, we do not annotate neutraceuticals that are metabolites. Thirdly, our drug and ligand annotation and relationship mappings have other selectivity differences to DrugBank (see and our FAQ). The upshot is that  DrugBank has 7422 and we have 6293 structures with a PubChem CID entry. The overlap of 1339 thus extensively covers approved drugs for non-infectious diseases and some clinical candidates. Note also we update new drug approvals in our approximately quarterly releases (anyone needing more details on intersects and differences between the two sources is welcome to contact us).

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