How are medications named?

Why are Benzodiazepines called Benzodiazepines? Where does this word structure come from? What does the “diaz” part and the “pine” part mean, etymologically? Where does it originate?

Alprazolam. Diazepam. Why? Why the “pam” and “am” endings - is there some significance to this, going back to Latin or Greek?

It’s a chemical name. Benzene ring + diazepine ring, which is a ring containing two nitrogens, so it’s di-azepine. Many nitrogenous structures have “az” in their name, which traces back to a Greek root.

Drugs which consist of a single chemical have several names: the basic (and in some cases very long) systematic name, various other generic name usually formed by abbreviating the chemical name, and then zero or more (usually trademarked) trade names used by the manufacturers.

So, for example, take LSD. The systematic name is (6aR,9R)- N,N- diethyl- 7-methyl- 4,6,6a,7,8,9- hexahydroindolo- [4,3-fg] quinoline- 9-carboxamide. Since that’s quite a mouthful, the shorter (but still generic) terms lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD are usually used. It was manufactured and sold commercially under the trade name delysid.

Doesn’t explain why Ass Effects ended up making it all the way through and as the marketing name. [Asiphex]

I’ll see your Aciphex and raise you one (Enablex, possibly the dumbest drug name of all time).

The generic names make sense to pharmacologists based on chemical structure. The brand names often make sense only if you’re on crack.

The brand names are sometimes picked to be unique so they can be remembered. For a while they liked to use z in names since not many words use z. So we got prozac, zantac, etc.

Anusol remains my favorite. Long A, short U, long O.


Drugs with the -mab ending are monoclonal antibodies.

This sort of derivation from the generic name seems to have been a lot more popular in the past.