My use of drug names is a mixed bag of terms.
In medical school we learn drugs by their generic names, but it doesn’t take long before we realize that each has both a generic name and one (or more) brand names. I suppose there’s also the chemical names, but no one outside the lab uses those. They’re waaaaay too long.
There is, for better or worse, a lot of variability in this. The purists (almost always academics, or cardiologists, or academic cardiologists) insist on generic names only. In their notes, conversations, presentations, whatever. If you’re a medical student or resident under them, you learn fast not to use the brand name.
After 30 years of doing this ... I don’t care. My notes are a mishmash of both.
Let’s face it, brand names are generally shorter and easier to type, spell, and pronounce than the generic names. I still need to know both, but when I’m writing up a note Keppra is far easier than levetiracetam. And most patients find the brand names a lot easier to say and remember.
An even weirder point, which is my own, is that one of my teaching attendings insisted that we capitalize both generic and brand names while on his rotation. Why? He never explained that, but he was pretty insistent. Now, for whatever reason, the habit has stuck with me. I’m sure the cardiologist down the hall would love to send my notes back, heavily marked up with red ink.
There’s even a weird subdivisions in this: Aspirin is a brand name by Bayer. Shouldn’t it be capitalized in our notes? But it isn’t, and to make things more confusing that varies by country. Why? (if you’re curious, it’s a strange combination of 100-year-old patent claims, generic trademark rulings, and also what country you’re in, whether it was involved in World War I, and, if so, which side. Really).
So the medical lists in my notes are certainly understandable, though aren’t going to score me any points for academic correctness. Not that I care. As a medical Shakespeare might have written, Imitrex, Onzetra, Zembrace, Tosymra, Sumavel, Alsuma, Imigran, Migraitan, and Zecuity ... are still sumatriptan by any other name.
Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.