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BMS263 Research Skills Guide: DRUG NAMES

An online tutorial to help with Assessment One in BMS263


Drugs can be known by a chemical name, a generic name, and a brand name.

  • Chemical Name. This is very precise, but is not practical to use for searching and identification. You can find a drug's chemical name in MIMS Online in the full Product Information (PI).

eg. (2S,5R,6R)-6- [[(2R)-2-amino-2- (4-hydroxyphenyl)acetyl]amino]- 3,3-dimethyl-7-oxo-4- thia-1- azabicyclo[3.2.0] heptane-2-carboxylic acid.

  • Approved Generic Name (non-proprietary). This is usually suggested by a drug company but approved by the local drug regulating authority. This means that it can vary from country to country. (For example: what we in Australia call paracetamol is known in the US as acetaminophen.)

eg. Amoxycillin.

  • Brand Name. This is the marketing name chosen by the drug company for a specific formulation.

eg. Amoxil


More examples:

Chemical Name          Generic Name    Brand Name
4-hydroxy-3 -(3-oxo-1-phenylbutyl) coumarin          Warfarin sodium    Coumadin tablets
erythromycin 2'-(ethylsuccinate)          Erythromycin    EES tablets



When searching for information on a medicine, it's best to use the generic name, or possibly the brand name if you need information on the specific formulation.  

You can use synonyms (alternative terms) when searching. For example, you might want to search for the generic name OR the brand name. You can combine search terms with the OR operator to get results for one or the other.

eg: paracetamol OR acetaminophen OR panadol OR tylenol

In a database search box, you can enter different versions of a drug's name and combine them with the OR operator, to search for one or other (or both or all)

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