Friday, December 10, 2010

Pharmaceutical names

Every pharmaceutical drug has at least three names: a chemical name based on the compound's structure; a generic (or nonproprietary) name that is the drug's official name throughout its lifetime and a trade (or proprietary) name used by the pharmaceutical company for a 17-year period in which it has the exclusive rights to make and sell the drug.

Pharmaceutical brand names are designed to connote meaning, while generic names are designed to denote specific chemical structures. For example, brand names often use linguistic tricks, such as plosive letters (P, T or D) to convey power, or fricative letters (X, F, S or Z) to imply speed. The FDA's Office of Postmarketing Drug Risk Assessment does not allow brand names that sound too much like what they are supposed to do, or sound too much like other drugs. Generic (nonproprietary) pharmaceutical names are assigned by the United States Adopted Name Council to denote the chemical structure of the compound. Examples include drugs that end with -mab, which stands for monoclonal antibody, and drugs that end with -tocin, which are oxytoxin derivatives.

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