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Code Designations 

Code Designations


Margaret A. Winker

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Code Designations

A code designation is a temporary designation assigned to a product by the institution or manufacturer and may be used to refer to a drug under development before a nonproprietary name has been assigned. Codes may be numeric, alphabetic, or alphanumeric; letters in alphanumeric codes designate the institution or manufacturer assigning the code designation of the drug, and are followed by numbers to designate the chemical compound.1(p15)

Once a nonproprietary name has been assigned, code designations become obsolete and are rarely used in medical publications. If both the code and the nonproprietary name are provided, such as in discussion of the history of a drug, the nonproprietary name should be used preferentially and the code name may be added in parentheses.

Mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486) was approved by FDA on September 28, 2000.

Zidovudine (BW A509U) first became known as azidothymidine (commonly known as AZT) during testing and eventually was marketed as Retrovir.

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