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Trivial Names 


Margaret A. Winker

Trivial Names

Drugs occasionally become known by an unofficial trivial name. The trivial name should be used in biomedical publications only to reproduce the exact language used as part of a study (eg, in a questionnaire), for historical reasons, or rarely when readers may be unfamiliar with the nonproprietary name. When reproducing the exact language used in a study, the nonpropietary name should be provided in brackets after the term used in the study.

The participants were asked, “Have you ever taken AZT [zidovudine] or ddI [didanosine]?” Participants who said they had taken zidovudine or didanosine were classified as having had prior exposure to antiretroviral agents.

When names other than the nonproprietary name are used for historical reasons or because readers are unfamiliar with the nonproprietary name, the nonproprietary name should be used preferentially and the alternative name provided in parentheses.

Semustine (NSC-95441) has been referred to in the scientific literature by its trivial name, methyl-CCNU, a contraction of its chemical name 1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea.

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