One look in the average medicine cabinet, and you might reasonably conclude that drugs can be named just about any damned thing. You would, of course, be just slightly in error:
Is there anything preventing a company from calling its active ingredient supercurol? Well, yes. The U.S. Adopted Names Council. It has some rules, including the following:
“Prefixes that imply ‘better,’ ‘newer,’ or ‘more effective;’ prefixes that evoke the name of the sponsor, dosage form, duration of action or rate of drug release should not be used.”
“Prefixes that refer to an anatomical connotation or medical condition are not acceptable.”
Certain letters or sets of letters also aren’t allowed at the beginning of new generic names. These include me, str, x, and z.
Then again, coiners of new brand names would be utterly desolate if they couldn’t start names with Z — even double or triple Z.
There are also suffixes: for example, -vir is used for antivirals. I’m trying to figure what I should do with the one drug I take that ends in -lol.
(Via this @fussfactory tweet.)