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Standardization of Drug Names— A Commentary

Armistead Lee, MA, MPA
JAMA. 1974;229(5):560-562. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230430052030.
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Frank N. Allan, MD, has written in support of a bill (S. 2633, 93rd Congress), introduced by Sen Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin which, if enacted, would prohibit the use of trademarked names for prescription drug products. In our opinion this proposal, in attempting to avert purely hypothetical dangers, poses some real and greater ones. It promises no consumer benefits sufficient to offset its adverse effects—the annoyance to physicians and the discouragement to manufacturers willing to underwrite increasingly expensive and risky research and development, and those who may wish to exceed minimal standards of quality and not merely meet them.

First of all, where is there evidence of a real and serious problem? Are physicians really ignorant as to the active ingredients of the 40 to 50 drugs commonly used by the typical practitioner? We doubt it. Journal articles invariably refer to drugs by generic names, and by law, every advertisement


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