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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 9, 2007


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(18):2036. doi:10.1001/jama.297.18.2036

The difficulties and disadvantages connected with the present nomenclature of the rapidly increasing number of synthetic chemicals introduced into medicine is forcibly presented in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal. Three phases of the difficulty present themselves: 1. The distinctive and systematic chemical terms are too meaningless to the ordinary physician and too long and cumbersome for common use. 2. The shorter names introduced by the manufacturers are arbitrary and, being protected by registration, are intended to prevent the use of the products of rival houses when the patents expire. 3. If a preparation shows any degree of popularity it is likely to be introduced by other firms under new names so that the multiplicity of names for the same article becomes confusing. Further, it is possible that a substance which has proved unsatisfactory may be again introduced under a new name and be considerably used before its true character and worthlessness is discovered. This has often been done. Frequently, also, a substance is introduced in various countries under different names; therefore, an international nomenclature is needed. As a remedy for these evils it has been proposed that unregistered coined names be provided for the new synthetics and that such names be published in the Chemist’s Annual, which is a special yearly issue sent to all members of the Pharmaceutical Society in Great Britain.