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Am Fam Physician. 2004;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.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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