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March 2018

I’m Talking to You-Mab—How to Pronounce the New, Unpronounceable Pharmaceuticals

Author Affiliations
  • 1MedNorthwest, Seattle, Washington
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(3):319-320. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7898

The abundance of new pharmaceuticals has created an enormous challenge for clinicians: pronouncing the names of these drugs correctly. Having a uniform pronunciation is beneficial on many fronts, including patient safety, and as physicians we are embarrassed when we don’t know how to say a drug’s name properly. To avoid appearing incompetent, we skirt the issue by using trade names or, worse, therapeutic classes. Sure, it is more informative to say your psoriasis patient is on “secukinumab” than on “biologics,” but this means tackling, in front of your peers, an invented monstrosity of a word that was never mentioned in medical school. As generics and biosimilars become available, we need to know that Crestor is rosuvastatin and Remicade is infliximab to take care of patients, but we must pronounce the names correctly to avoid appearing like fools.