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October 13, 1962

Nonproprietary Prefixes

JAMA. 1962;182(2):211-212. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050410107026

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To the Editor:—  In the derivation of nonproprietary drug nomenclature, too great a dependence is placed upon the chemical name of the compound. This practice results in the excessive use of a number of common chemical prefixes leading to confusingly similar designations for different drugs.In a study made of the most frequently-occurring prefixes in the 12 lists of proposed international nonproprietary names, only one prefix (sulfa) gives any useful pharmacological information to a physician. Since the use of the other prefixes only serves to distinguish compounds from each other, it can be readily recognized that nonchemical prefixes would result in more distinctive names, and therefore, would be more useful. A recommendation to this effect is hereby made to all medical scientists who are in any manner involved in procedures leading to the selection of nonproprietary names for drugs.

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