Nomenclature of Drugs

Nomenclature of Drugs

Drugs usually have three types of names.

Chemical name

Chemical NameNon-proprietary nameProprietary/brand name  
Acetylsalicylic acidAspirinDisprin, Ecosprin  
N-acetyl-p-aminophenolParacetamolCrocin, Metacin, Tylenol  

1. Chemical name: It denotes the chemical structure of the drug, e.g. acetylsalicylic acid is the chemical name of aspirin and N-acetyl-p-aminophenol for paracetamol. It is not suitable for use in a prescription.

2. Non-proprietary name: It is assigned by a competent scientific body/authority, e.g. the United States Adopted Name (USAN) council. It is commonly used as generic name. It should be used ideally in prescriptions because it is economical and uniform all over the world than the branded counterparts, e.g. aspirin and paracetamol are generic names.

3. Proprietary name (brand name): It is given by the drug manufacturers. Brand names are short and easy to recall. A drug usually has many brand names—it may have different names within a country and in different countries. Brand names can also be used in prescriptions, e.g. Disprin is a brand name of aspirin; Crocin is a brand name of paracetamol.