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August 6, 1960


JAMA. 1960;173(14):1580-1582. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020320060017

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."

SHAKESPEARE was right, of course, that a name is not an intrinsic part of an object; nevertheless, a name is necessary for the object to be identified and essential if the object is to be remembered. We doctors speak or write the names of several hundred drugs masquerading under several thousand trade names. How well do these names enable us to identify the drugs and remember them?

First, let us see how names become attached to drugs. Several different agencies are concerned with names: the Food and Drug Administration, the Convention of the United States Pharmacopeia, the National Formulary Committee, the Council on Drugs of the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization. The Food and Drug Administration is charged by law with the duty of seeing that the label of