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Overview of Generic Drugs and Drug Naming

Overview of Generic Drugs and Drug Naming

Overview of Generic Drugs and Drug Naming


Drugs frequently have multiple names. When a drug is discovered, it is given a chemical name that describes its atomic or molecular structure. As a result, the chemical name is usually too complex and cumbersome for general use. A shorthand version of the chemical name or code name (RU 486) is created for easy reference among researchers. When a drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA—the US government agency in charge of ensuring that drugs sold in the US are safe and practical), it is given a label. Official (generic) name of a brand (proprietary, trademark, or trade). For example, phenytoin is the generic name, and Dilantin is the brand name for the same antiseizure medication.

In the United States, the generic name is assigned by an official body called the United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council. The brand name is created by the company requesting drug approval and identifies it as the sole property of that company. When a patent protects a drug, the company markets it under its brand name. When a patent no longer protects a drug, the company may market it under either the generic or brand name. Other companies seeking approval to market the off-patent drug must use the same generic name but may develop their brand name. As a result, the same generic drug may be sold under the generic name (for example, ibuprofen) or one of several brand names (such as Advil or Motrin). When drugs are prescribed, and prescriptions are dispensed, generic and brand names must be distinct to prevent one drug from being mistaken for another. To avoid potential confusion, the FDA must approve each proposed brand name. Government officials, doctors, researchers, and others who write about the new compound use the drug’s generic name because it refers to the drug itself, not a specific company’s brand or product.

On the other hand, doctors frequently use the brand name on prescriptions because it is easier to remember, and doctors usually learn about new drugs by the brand name. Generic names are typically more complex and difficult to remember than brand names. Many generic names are abbreviations for the drug’s chemical name, structure, or formula. Brand names, on the other hand, are usually catchy, often related to the drug’s intended use, and relatively easy to remember so that doctors will prescribe the drug and consumers will look for it by name. Brand names frequently allude to a drug’s features. Lopressor, for example, lowers blood pressure, Glucotrol regulates high blood sugar (glucose), and Skelaxin relaxes skeletal muscles. The brand name is sometimes a shortened version of the drug’s generic name, such as Minocin for minocycline.

Overview of Generic Drugs and Drug Naming


Overview of Generic Drugs and Drug Naming


  1. List the trade name of a drug used for psychiatric treatment that begins with the first letter of your first name (include generic name).
    • Upload a picture of the selected food or drug (optional)
    • List one FDA approved use and one off-label use for the selected drug
    • List one drug or herb that potentiates the identified drug.
  2. Explain the identified drug’s half-life.
  3. Explain the importance of knowing about the drug’s therapeutic index.




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