Why do drugs/medicines have such difficult names?


And what’s the creative process behind coming up with such names?

In: 13

The generic (non-propriety) names of drugs do have a system that they use to assign names that should give the doctor prescribing it a general idea of what the medicine contains, what it does and also to make sure it’s not easily confused with other medicines

They are also then registered with the WHO who have a system to make sure it’s a suitable name, that nobody else complains about it, etc

As for the brand names – there’s not any requirement to have the difficult names they often choose to use. It’s basically just marketing at that point – they make it sound mediciney and similar to the official names medicines use so that people associate them with being medicine.

They could use simpler names but the end consumer (i.e. the patient) always seems to prefer to names that sound more like they think the name of medicine should sound like.

You might be surprised to learn that millions of dollars go into pharmaceutical research. Even when creating medicine for a minor disorder, the amount of research and development and testing (mouse, pig, human trials, etc…) Is staggering. Add to this the patent rights which will allow the company to profit for a set amount of time. Coming up with a unique and memorable drug name to patent, along with graphics and marketing are all part of the process.

Now if you’re not talking about the trade name, but the chemical name, well that gets into organic chemistry naming conventions: (2,4,6 Trimethyl Phenol)

In countries that allow euthanasia, patented medicine names such as: *”Damitol”*, or even *’Fuqitol”* have been suggested, probably as a joke.

Drugs usually have three separate names; the brand name, the [INN name](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_nonproprietary_name) and [IUPAC name](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IUPAC_nomenclature_of_organic_chemistry) (which is more like a chemical formula than a name). You’re probably looking for one of the first two.

Brand names are “easy”; it can be pretty much whatever they want. However, pharma marketing people do their very best to come up with something that’s memorable and sounds like it’ll do the job. There’s a lot to it, and you’ll find plenty if you google about “deciding drug names” or something along those lines.

The INN names start with a unique part (decided on by a few regulatory agencies like the WHO and USAN), after which they’re very systematically built up. As an example from a [type of drugs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenclature_of_monoclonal_antibodies) I work a lot with and follow a particularly complicated scheme: the monoclonal antibody adalimumab has *ada-* as its unique part, *-lim-* to indicate it is immunomodulatory, *-u-* to indicate it’s of fully human origin, and the standard *-mab* suffix that any monoclonal gets.

The generic names are usually based on the chemical name. Like Metformin contains dimethylbiguanide

so Metformin says it contains methyl and a Formin, in this case Guanide

A lot of medications are like this, Sertraline contains Desmethylsertraline

But the Commercial name is chosen, and they’ll often just pick a word that sounds ‘medical’ but gives a hint of what it is.

So like Metformin is Diabetes medication, a brand name is Glucophage. Most people know ‘glucose’ is sugar related, so a diabetic is going to understand this medication relates to sugar levels.

Other things like, Viagra is just again, make it sounds vaguely like something… vaguely like Vigor, or Vitality, and the letter V always makes people think of vaginas.

Same with stuff like Claritin… vaguely sounds like clear or clarity.

Prevacid literally prevents Acid…. Prev…acid

Like if I was asked to rename a chair as a a medical compound, I’d call it Aseatorest or something. That’s basically what they are doing.

Adalimumab for instance. What is it and why so named?