Chemical Names - AMA Manual of Style

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Chemical Names 


Margaret A. Winker

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Chemical Names

The chemical name describes a drug in terms of its chemical structure.1(p9) Chemical names are provided in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts (information available at and can be listed in 1 of 2 ways; the first reflects the way in which Chemical Abstracts indexes inverted chemical names:

hydrazinecarboxyimidamide, 2-[-(2,6-dichlorophenoxy)ethyl]-, sulfate, (2:1)

The second is the uninverted form:

2-[-(2,6-dichlorophenoxy)ethyl] hydrazinecarboxyimidamide sulfate, (2:1)

Both forms follow the recommendations of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Each chemical is also designated a registry number with the Chemical Abstract Society (information available at This number is included in the USP Dictionary1 listing for the drug. Chemical names and registry numbers are rarely used in medical publications, and nonproprietary names are preferred.1(pp13-15)

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