When working in pharmacy practice, it is important to know the different types of drug names, how they differ from each other and why one drug might be chosen over another. It is also important to have a working knowledge of what the different drugs are used for. Having this knowledge and understanding aids in the prevention of errors and allows us to explain the medication to the patient accurately. There are four types of drug names. They are: the chemical name, the generic name, the official name, and the trade name (note that there may be more than one trade name).
According to Johnston (2006), the chemical name describes the chemical make-up of the drug. The chemical name is typically very long and one would have to be a chemist in order to understand it. The generic name of a drug is a name given by the manufacturer before the drug is recognized. This name generally offers some information regarding the chemical make-up of the drug. Generic also means non-brand name. The official name is the name in which the drug is listed in the United States Pharmacopeia/National Formulary. The official name is typically the same as the generic name.
The trade name of a drug is the name that the drug is sold by a specific manufacturer. The trade name is authorized for use only by that specific manufacturer who licensed the name. The trade name may also be known as the brand name or the proprietary name. There can be many different trade names for a drug, but it is important to understand and know that there can only be one generic name for the drug, Johnston (2006). The drug names differ in many aspects, for example, the chemical name is the chimerical compounds and make-up of the drug, while the generic name and the official name generally describes the form of the drug, i. . capsule, tablet, suspension, powder, drops, chewable, ointments, cream, or lotions. The trade name is generally indicated by an r inside a circle to indicate that the name is a registered trade mark and cannot be used by any other manufacturer. The names also differ in the fact that they are given by different agencies and manufacturers. There are many reasons as to why one might use one drug over another. Let’s take Lipitor and Advicore for example; they are both used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
They are both of the statin family of drugs (there are many different statin type drugs on the market to choose from), but Advicore has a fairly high amount of niacin in it. Some people are allergic to niacin, there for they would use Lipitor. Expense is another reason one drug may be used over another drug. Also different drugs work differently on different people. What works for one may not work for another. Sometimes physicians are given “incentives” from the manufacturer to prescribe their drug, and sometimes the patient has a preference.
Many drugs are used for many reasons, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, infections, pain and many more. We will discuss a few of them. Let’s start with Atorvastatin, generic for Lipitor and is prescribed for the purpose of lowering cholesterol and to aid in the prevention of a heart attack, Rx List (2012). Atenolol is a beta-blocker and is typically prescribed to a person with both hypertension and rapid heart rate. This medication is used to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Amoxicillin, generic for Amoxil, is an antibiotic used to treat infections, typically of the ears, and teeth.
Azithromycin, generic for Zithromax, commonly known as a z-pack, is an antibiotic and is used to treat infections, typically of the respiratory system. Levothyroxine, generic for Eltroxin, Estre, Euthyrox, Levo-t, and Levota. This drug is used to treat hypothyroidism, Pub Med Health (2012). The point is, the more we know and understand the different names and uses for the many different drugs, the better we can assist patients and prevent errors. Having this knowledge also helps us to be able to detect prescribing errors, i. e. wrong doses, wrong med for condition et cetera.