All drugs marketed in Europe are now known by their recommended International Non-proprietary (generic) Name (rINN). In the past, most publications in the UK used the now outdated British Approved Name (BAN). To aid understanding of the older literature, significant differences between BANs and rINNs are listed in Table 1. However, when the difference is simply, e.g. ‘f’ instead of ‘ph’, ‘e’ instead of ‘oe’, or ‘t’ instead of ‘th’, these generally have not been included.
In the USA, United States Adopted Names (USANs) take precedence over rINNs. USANs are also included in Table 1 where these differ significantly from rINNs.
Note: in the UK, the BANs adrenaline and noradrenaline are still used in conjunction with the corresponding rINNs, i.e. adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine).
Care should be taken with proprietary drug names in different countries. Some proprietary names are similar in spelling or pronunciation but contain different drugs. Further, some products with identical proprietary names contain different drugs, e.g. Urex® in the USA contains methenamine but, in Australia, furosemide.1
Table 1 Drug names relevant to palliative care for which the rINN, BAN and/or USAN differ
|Liquid paraffin||Mineral oil|
|Methenamine hippurate||Hexamine hippurate|
|Retinol||Vitamin A||Vitamin A|
|Sodium cromoglicate||Sodium cromoglycate||Cromolyn sodium|
1 FDA (2006) Consumers filling U.S. prescriptions abroad may get the wrong active ingredient because of confusing drug names. Public Health Advisory. www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/default.htm