Letters to the Editor

AFP Policy on Using Generic and Brand Names for Drugs


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Sep 15;70(6):1031.

to the editor: Could you please resume using the commonly used proprietary name in parentheses after the generic whenever possible? I do not always remember the generic name of a medication, often because so many of the drugs in a medication class have similar sounding names. This would save me time when reading American Family Physician (AFP), help me understand what I am reading without having to look up the name in the Physicians’ Desk Reference, and reduce confusion about which medication is being referred to in the article. I understand there may be some idealogic reason for not using the proprietary name, but it is often the name most commonly used when discussing the medication. Please give this every consideration. I know many of my colleagues feel the same way.

editor's note: At American Family Physician, our policy on the use of drug names is to use the generic name throughout the discussion, but provide the trade/brand name in parentheses at the first mention. This policy is a compromise between the scientific (purist) approach of always using the generic name, and using the brand name throughout the entire article. The latter is problematic for several reasons: (1) this practice might seem too promotional; (2) some generic drugs have more than one brand name during the initial patent period (for example, Bactrim and Septra, Adalat and Procardia, and Calan and Isoptin); and (3) after the patent period, many generic drugs are sold under multiple brand names.


Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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