Acta Scientific Pharmaceutical Sciences (ASPS)(ISSN: 2581-5423)

Review Article Volume 5 Issue 11

An Introduction to Drug Nomenclature

Indrani Devi Sarma1, Dhriti Kr Brahma2* and Himadri Sekhar Dasgupta1

12nd year PGT, Department of Pharmacology, NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, India
2Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, India

*Corresponding Author: Dhriti Kr Brahma, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, NEIGRIHMS, Shillong, India.

Received: September 24, 2021; Published: October 22, 2021



The nomenclature of drugs is a complex process. A drug generally has three different categories of names from its discovery to the arrival in the market: chemical name, non-proprietary name and proprietary name. While chemical name is given when a new chemical entity (NCE) is developed and it describes the substance chemically, the non-proprietary name of a drug is the accepted name by a competent scientific body/authority. As the name suggests, the proprietary name or brand name is the name assigned by the manufacturer(s) and is the sole property or trade mark of the concerned pharmaceutical company developing it. The non-proprietary names of newer drugs are kept uniform by an agreement to use the Recommended International Nonproprietary Name (rINN) in all member countries of World Health Organization (WHO). The system of INN of drugs was initiated by WHO and began operating in 1953. The crux of the non-proprietary naming system is the collection of short name fragments called stems. They define the pharmacologically related group to which the INN belongs. The WHO uses its stem classification system in INN Programme by following a core list to categorize the main activity of pharmaceutical substances. Each category included in the list has an appropriate code consisting of a capital letter and three digits, category, specific stem and appropriate information..

Keywords: Chemical Name; Non-proprietary Name; Proprietary Name; INN System



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  2. The Commission on the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (1971) [1958 (A: Hydrocarbons, and B: Fundamental Heterocyclic Systems), 1965 (C: Characteristic Groups)]. Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (3rd edition combined ed.). London: Butterworths.
  3. United States Adopted Names Council. Naming guidelines: rules for coining names. American Medical Association.
  4. British Approved Names: Guiding Principles (2006).
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  7. WHO, Procedure for the Selection of Recommended International Nonproprietary Names for Pharmaceutical Substances, text adopted by Executive Board of WHO in Resolution EB 15.R7, 1955 and amended by Resolution EB 43.R9, 1969, Article 2, reprinted in WHO Drug Information 19.2 (2005): 189-190.
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Citation: Dhriti Kr Brahma., et al. “An Introduction to Drug Nomenclature". Acta Scientific Pharmaceutical Sciences 5.11 (2020): 42-44.


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