INSIDE CLINICAL TRIALS What Do Drug Names Mean?

December 2019

What Do Drug Names Mean?

Have you ever wondered: How did trastuzumab (Herceptin) get its name? Or why is the biosimilar for Herceptin called trastuzumab-anns (Kanjinti)?

As the articles below explain, the names of cancer drugs are driven by science and advertising. Each new drug starts off with a name comprised of letters or numbers that means something only to the company that created it. If studies show that the drug is beneficial, and if it is approved by the FDA, it will get a generic name and a brand name. The generic name will contain clues to how the drug works or if it is a biosimilar. Brand names will be chosen based on what companies hope to portray, and what the FDA will allow.

Read on to learn more about the art and science of how drugs get their names.

And for a refresher on biosimilars, check out this past issue of MTT.

 

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