International nonproprietary name

The World Health Organization has a constitutional mandate to "develop, establish and promote international standards with respect to biological, pharmaceutical and similar products".


The International Nonproprietary Name (INN) is an official generic and non-proprietary name given to a pharmaceutical drug or an active ingredient.[2] International Nonproprietary Names make communication more precise by providing a unique standard name for each active ingredient, to avoid prescribing errors.[1] The INN system has been coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1953.

Having unambiguous standard names for each drug (standardization of drug nomenclature) is important because a drug may be sold by many different brand names, or a branded medication may contain more than one drug. For example, the branded medications Celexa, Celapram and Citrol all contain the same active ingredient: citalopram; and the branded preparation Lemsip contains two active ingredients: paracetamol and phenylephrine.

Each drug's INN is unique but may contain a word stem that is shared with other drugs of the same class, for example the beta blocker drugs propranolol and atenolol share the -olol suffix, and the benzodiazepine drugs lorazepam and diazepam share the -azepam suffix.

The WHO issues INNs in English, Latin, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese, and a drug's INNs are often cognate across most or all of the languages, with minor spelling or pronunciation differences, for example: paracetamol (en) paracetamolum (la), paracétamol (fr) and парацетамол (ru). An established INN is known as a recommended INN (rINN), while a name that is still being considered is called a proposed INN (pINN).

Drugs from the same therapeutic or chemical class are usually given names with the same stem. Stems are mostly placed word-finally, but in some cases word-initial stems are used. They are collected in a publication informally known as the Stem Book.[3]

Examples are:[3]

This page was last edited on 25 March 2018, at 08:06 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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