1. All drugs have a chemical name.
This name provides a description of the molecule according to the rules outlined in Chemical Abstracts (e.g. 2-acetyloxybenzoic
2. Most drugs are given a generic name, commonly used in psychopharmacology (e.g. acetylsalicylic acid)
3. Drugs are usually assigned a proprietary name (brand or trade name) by the manufacturer (e.g. Aspirin commercialized by Bayer)
This name is : protected by trademark laws, easy to pronounce and may suggest a drug’s therapeutic action.
The three examples given in parentheses above represent the same drug, which is Aspirin.
Another example is the generic antipsychotic clozapine which is sold under the brand name Clozaril. The brand name may change depending on the country in which the medication is marketed.
The chemical and generic names are universal, which means the same nomenclature is used worldwide.
Difficulty in finding a drug’s name can occur when using a brand name. The brand name may vary from one country to another; therefore it is useful to consult the appropriate reference materials.
The CPS is a Canadian Drug Reference for Health Professionals and it is available in both official languages. It is published by the Canadian Pharmacists Association in hard and soft copies. The latter is available by subscription (www.e-cps.ca). For more information, go to www.pharmacists.ca/e-cps The CPS is also available in French.
This is an online tool which offers access to world leading drug and health care resources, including the Martindale. Its coverage of proprietary preparations has expanded to approximately 40 countries. MedecinesComplete is offered by subscription only.
The Martindale, similar to the CPS, does exist in CD-ROM and it is linked to several health care reference websites such as www.medicinescomplete.com which provides online access to international drug information.
The Merck Manuals are a series of health-care books for medical professionals and consumers. Some documents have been translated into French.
Micromedex is another good source of information on medications.
Most of these websites require a subscription. Wikipedia and Google Scholar (where the language can be changed) provide some information in French but it is not as complete as the same information given in English.
Information is also provided on CAMH Resources relating to Medication