Difference Between Nonproprietary/ Generic Name and Trade/ Brand Name

Difference Between Nonproprietary/ Generic Name and Trade/ Brand Name

Nonproprietary/ generic name:


Medical professionals choose the nonproprietary name which is simpler than, the chemical name and easier to remember. The nonproprietary name may be inaccurately called generic name (it designates a family relationship among drugs).

The nonproprietary name is always concise and meaningful.For example, the chemical name 2-methyl-5-nitroimidazole-l-ethanol is metronidazole. The word methylnitro is condensed to metro and ni-dazole is due to its imidazole ring. Metoclopramide is the condensed form of the word methoxychloroprocainamide: where Me is retained and th is written as t; chloro is written as clo: and procainamide is written as pramide.

The name aspirin was derived from ‘a’ for acetyl, ‘spir’ for Spirsaure (a German word, Saure means acid) or the genus Spiraea, and ‘in’ as a popular suffix for drugs of the times. The name gives hints about the chemical structure of the drug i.e.. the acetyl product of salicylic acid as an analgesic. But nonproprietary names, except for a few, usually give no indication of the stereochemistry of the drugs.

A generic drug is the exact same medication and strength as the brand name drug. It is produced by a manufacturer other than the brand name manufacturer. This can be done when the original manufacturer has lost its patent protection on a particular drug. This is to ensure that they will be as potent and provide the same therapeutic effect as the brand name drug. However, generic drugs are available at a lower price, saving you money.

The nonproprietary names are chosen by official agencies:

a) International Nonproprietary Names (INN),

b) British Approved Names (BAN), and

c) United States Approved Names (USAN), USP, and

d) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

These names are developed according to a number of guiding principles. A name should be:

a) useful primarily to health practitioners,

b) short, easy to pronounce, easy to recognize and recall,

c) such that it would reflect pharmacological, chemical or other characteristics and relationships of actual practical value to the users, and

d) free of conflict with other drug names- neither confusing nor misleading.

The nonproprietary name of some drugs in USA (USANT) and UK (BAN) is different (The bronchodilator salbutamol (according to BAN) is known as albuterol in USA. Frusemide (according to BAN) is also known as furosemide (according to USAN).

According to WHO the following general principles are adopted in naming a drug in the nonproprietary naming:

a) names should preferably be free from any anatomical, physiological ,pathological or therapeutic suggestion;

b) a name should be formed by combination of syllables from the scientific chemical names in such a way as to indicate the significant groups of compounds

c) the name should not exceed four syllables, they should be distinctive in sound and spelling. They should not contain a terminal capital letter or number

d) the following suffix should be used: ine (in case of alkaloids), -in (giycosides), -ol (alcohol, phenol), -al (aldehydes), -ene (unsaturated hydrocarbon), -one (saturated hydrocarbon).

Sometimes drugs totally different classes have closely similar names. For example, acetazolamide /acetohexamide, chlorpromazine/ chlorpropamide, piperazine /pirenzepine, and ter-binafine/ terfenadine. These cause confusion of names and the dispensing of wrong drugs.

Trade/ brand name:

The third name of a drug is the trade, proprietary or brand name. It is shorter, simpler, easier to remember, write, and most frequently used. The trade name is different from the nonproprietary name. For example, GLAXO-WELLCOME LTD. uses its bronchodilator drug as ventolin instead of nonproprietary name, salbutamol. Different pharmaceutical companies market the same drug with different trade names which produce a lot of confusion.

Trade or brand names are registered by the manufacturers. Often you will see different trade names in different countries. The medications have the same active ingredients, but may look different and have a different trade name. A trade name frequently appears with the sign ® at its upper right corner which indicates that the name is registered and its production is restricted to that pharmaceutical company as sole owner.

So, a trade name refers to a particular company. There is great debate about the use of nonproprietary vs. trade name in the prescription. However, drugs sold under nonproprietary name are usually cheaper than those sold under trade name. There are valid arguments in both sides. So, patients should acquaint themselves with both the nonproprietary and the trade names.

Many of the drugs sold in Canada are the same as those sold in the United States. Others are manufactured in Canada or in other countries, and are the version sold in Canada. In fact, some drugs may even have different names or look different than the ones you may be familiar with in the United States.

For example, in Canada, the U.S. drug "Prilosec" is called "Losec" and is a pill form rather than a capsule, even though it is the same drug manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company.
Patients need to ask. They need to ask the pharmacist. Move over to the consulting area in the pharmacy and ask is this the same medication I've been getting all along? Is it from the same manufacturer? If the answer's no, then they need to contact their physician and be sure it's okay for them to take that medication.

Unlike the nonproprietary name, the trade name is registered and its use is restricted to the owner of the copyright. Even when a drug is new and is protected by a patent, it may be licensed for use by a number of companies, and it then appears under a variety of trade names. The patent will last only 20 years after its issue date but the trade name registration may last for at least 50 years.

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