How to name a new drug

Drugs often have several names. When a drug is first discovered, it is given a chemical name, which describes the atomic or molecular structure of the drug. The chemical name is thus usually too complex and cumbersome for general use. Next, a shorthand version of the chemical name or a code name (such as RU 486) is developed for easy reference among researchers.

When a drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA—the U.S. government agency responsible for ensuring that drugs marketed in the United States are safe and effective), it is given a

Generic (official) name

Brand (proprietary or trademark or trade) name

For example, phenytoin is the generic name and Dilantin is a brand name for the same drug, which is a commonly used antiseizure drug.

The generic name is assigned, in the United States, by an official body—the United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council.

The brand name is developed by the company requesting approval for the drug and identifies it as the exclusive property of that company.

When a drug is under patent protection, the company markets it under its brand name. When the drug is off-patent (no longer protected by patent), the company may market its product under either the generic name or brand name. Other companies that file for approval to market the off-patent drug must use the same generic name but can create their own brand name. As a result, the same generic drug may be sold under either the generic name (for example, ibuprofen ) or one of many brand names (such as Advil or Motrin).

Generic and brand names must be unique to prevent one drug from being mistaken for another when drugs are prescribed and prescriptions are dispensed. To prevent this possible confusion, the FDA must agree to every proposed brand name.

Government officials, doctors, researchers, and others who write about the new compound use the drug’s generic name because it refers to the drug itself, not to a particular company’s brand of the drug or a specific product. However, doctors often use the brand name on prescriptions, because it is easier to remember and doctors usually learn about new drugs by the brand name.

Generic names are usually more complicated and harder to remember than brand names. Many generic names are a shorthand version of the drug’s chemical name, structure, or formula. In contrast, brand names are usually catchy, often related to the drug’s intended use, and relatively easy to remember, so that doctors will prescribe the drug and consumers will look for it by name. Brand names often suggest a characteristic of the drug. For example, Lopressor lowers blood pressure, Glucotrol controls high blood sugar (glucose) levels, and Skelaxin relaxes skeletal muscles. Sometimes, the brand name is simply a shortened version of the drug’s generic name—for example, Minocin for minocycline .

The term generic, when applied to such items as foods and household products, is used to describe a less expensive, sometimes less effective or lower-quality copycat version of a brand-name product. However, most generic drugs, although less expensive than the comparable brand-name drug, are as effective and of the same quality as the brand-name drug (see Bioequivalence and Interchangeability of Generic Drugs Bioequivalence and Interchangeability of Generic Drugs When one company develops a generic version of another company’s brand-name drug, the new company’s experts in drug formulation must figure out how to make the drug. It is not enough for them. read more ). In fact, generic drug makers manufacture many brand-name products for companies that control the brand names. Sometimes, more than one generic version of a drug is available. For example, many manufacturers sell versions of acetaminophen , a nonprescription drug commonly used to relieve pain and fever.

Street names aside, who comes up with crazy non-words like Zyrtec, tenofovir and Xeljanz?

By Rebecca Boyle | Published Apr 23, 2013 6:00 PM

How to name a new drug

How to name a new drug

How to name a new drug

Say it with me: Xeljanz. OK, at least try and say it with me. Shell-jance? Zell-johns? Ghel-yahns? Who knows. It’s a new arthritis drug, and I have no idea how to pronounce it, but one thing is definitely clear: It could be worth billions for its maker, Pfizer. (That name you probably know how to say.)

Though awkward to pronounce, Xeljanz is more memorable than its generic name, tofacitinib citrate. And it’s much more noteworthy than its chemical name, some unpronounceable string of characters. When the patent expires on Xeljanz a long time from now, people will ask their doctors for tofacitinib citrate instead.

Drugs, in other words, have at least three names. And coming up with these names, both a chemical name and its commercial brand, requires a drug name decoder. It’s somewhat like learning English words based on their roots: Once you know bio comes from the Greek for life, you know biosphere, biology, biography and so on have to do with that subject.

For drugs, the key is chemistry. Drug makers propose generic names according to their compound’s chemical makeup. While the chemical formula is what truly defines the drug, the name’s stem describes its structure, function and molecular targets. Tofacitinib citrate includes an epidermal growth factor receptor (-nib), which describes how the drug works. Something with a -mab ending, like lots of cancer drugs, are monoclonal antibodies; they target specific cells, viruses or bacteria, and you can identify those by the rest of the name. Something ending in a -vir is, predictably, an antiviral.

As an example, look at tenofovir. This is a drug used to treat HIV infection, and its chemical name is (<[(2R)-1-(6-amino-9H-purin-9-yl)propan-2-yl]oxy>methyl)phosphonic acid. Want to read that over the phone to a pharmacist? Neither does any human anywhere. So instead, the people who discovered it came up with tenofovir. Given the right stem, describing structure and function–the -vir– researchers can tack on syllables of their choice.

While the names sound strange, this is very serious business, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Mis-prescribed drugs are the most common error in health care, and thousands of people die this way every year. New generic names must meet standards set by the World Health Organization’s International Nonproprietary Names (INN) and the United States Adopted Names for pharmaceuticals, and brand names must pass muster with the FDA.

As for commercial names, pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to share their strategies. These are hugely important brands, even after the patents expire–nobody knows what Sildenafil citrate is, but everyone knows its brand name of Viagra. And the odds are you know someone who insists on brand-name Tylenol instead of discount-store acetaminophen.

How to name a new drug

Though pharmaceutical companies contacted by PopSci wouldn’t share their marketing secrets, you can still derive a drug’s molecular and popular heritage just by studying its name. Like, for example, Tylenol. Its chemical name is N-acetyl-p-aminophenol–see the tyl and -ol in there? Then there’s Viagra. It doesn’t sound like sildenafil, but it certainly suggests vigor and virility–exactly what Pfizer wants you to think. Xeljanz, which was approved earlier this year after almost 20 years of research, targets a protein called Janus kinase. It works in a different cellular pathway from other arthritis drugs. That’s where you get the -jan part of that name, which, to someone with a drug decoder, connotes its uniqueness.

As for the Shell, we’ll have to leave that to the imagination.

Drug patents are good for 20 years after the drug’s invention. In most cases, this time frame is halved to 10 years after testing finally brings the drug to the marketplace.

Patents are typically awarded within a few years after the patent application submission. A common misconception is that the patent begins only after the drug hits the market. However, the patent protects against copycat drugs from competitors in the pharmaceutical industry even before a drug is available for public use.

Drug Patents and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Although patents are good for 20 years after the invention of the drug, it can take up to eight years for a pharmaceutical company to do enough testing for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and investors. This is because the FDA can continuously ask for more studies and experiments that document the side effects and efficacy on human patients.

Due to the rigorous amount of testing that goes into a drug patent, many larger pharmaceutical companies file several patents on the same drug, aiming to extend the 20-year period and block generic competitors from producing the same drug. It’s estimated that once a generic drug hits the market after a patent expiration, name brand sales drop by 80 percent.

However, big pharmaceutical companies are prepared to deal with competing drug companies. When a pharmaceutical company challenges a generic drug manufacturer in court, the FDA must mandate a 30-month freeze on the approval of the generic drug. Generic drug makers, in turn, file lawsuits to invalidate these additional patents. This is just how the carousel of brand-name versus generic drug makers works in a legal forum.

Generic Drugs and Patent Expiration

When pharmaceutical companies first develop a new drug for patients, it’s offered under a sole brand name. This is almost always done under a patent, ensuring the patent-holding company is the only one allowed to manufacture, market, and profit from the drug.

Because the drug patent lasts only 20 years, brand-name drug producers move quickly to profit on their product. After approval from the FDA, this time frame is typically between 7 and 12 years. Once the patent expires, the generic companies come into the picture. However, generic drug companies must produce a product with the identical makeup of the original drug.

Generic drug companies must also meet the following guidelines when it comes to generic drug production:

  • The original patent must have expired.
  • The original manufacturer must certify that the patents have not been infringed upon, are invalid, or otherwise unenforceable.
  • There have never been any previous patents on the drug or in countries where the drug has no protection by law.

The benefit of offering generic drugs is that it removes the monopoly of the patent-holding company, encouraging competition and causing drug prices to drop to a better price. This allows people who need the drug to decide for themselves which drug is best for their symptoms and budget.

However, this isn’t the whole story. Some name-brand pharmaceutical companies constantly work to form a new, significantly changed version of the original drug. While this may require another patent application and clinical trials, it effectively blocks the competition from producing a generic equivalent, unless the FDA determines the original is of the same quality as the new drug.

Drug Patent Extensions and Their Effect on the Pharmaceutical Industry

While other patents have a finite length from the approval date, drug patents follow a different set of rules. In 1984, the government passed the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, also known as the Hatch-Waxman Act. This act gave patent extensions to name-brand drug companies to compensate for delays in the FDA approval process. This allows for a patent extension for up to five years, regardless of the length of time it took for the FDA to approve the drug.

The act further caps the protected amount of time to 14 years, depending on the approval delay time frame. This ensures the patent holder can assume profitability before generic drug companies move into the picture.

Another way to extend a drug patent is through research on children. Any drug intended for use in children is automatically granted a six-month extension. Known as the pediatric exclusivity extension, this loophole can be used only twice.

Other Methods to Secure a Drug Patent Extension

While the Hatch-Waxman Act provides a standard for drug patent extension, it isn’t the only way pharmaceutical companies can extend the patent’s life. These other methods are often referred to as “evergreening.”

The most common way companies do this is by getting additional patents on a new formulation of a drug that has the same benefits and treats the same illness as the older drug. In some instances, this may not even mean a total overhaul of the drug formula. Instead, the new drug might simplify the administration and dosage of the drug. Common examples may include an extended-release formula or a rapid-release formula.

A drug can also garner a three-year extension of the patent if the manufacturer can prove it works for other types of illnesses or in certain circumstances. One of the most interesting cases of this method of evergreening involved an anti-diabetes drug called Glucophage. The company took advantage of the pediatric exclusivity extension, then poured their research into developing the XR version of the original. This translated into $3 billion in additional sales, thanks to a three-year patent extension.

If you need help with drug patents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or for companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

There’s a method to the madness of naming drugs atorvastatin and fluoxetine

How to name a new drug

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Asvasiran. Bremabecestat. Gedatolisib. Lulumab pegol. Nexbolizumab. Uprosertib. Orilotimod. Vepoloxamer.

What are they? Aliens? Goblins? Diseases? A spelling bee contestant’s nightmare?

Nope. They’re names for drugs.

Not brand names, though. They’re the names for the active ingredients.

You may have noticed that every brand-name drug has a second name — for instance, Prozac® (fluoxetine). That second name, fluoxetine, is a name for the active ingredient, which is the same whatever the brand or generic form.

And believe it or not, these syllable-heavy second names are actually convenient nicknames. It’s much easier to say fluoxetine than to say (RS)-N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-[4-(trifluoromethyl)phenoxy]propan-1-amine.

When a drug company researches and patents a drug, it gets to suggest what the generic name should be. It makes an application to the United States Adopted Names Council (other countries have similar councils and they generally try to cooperate). And that is what those alien-looking words are that I started with: generic names that have been applied for and are under consideration.

So can these drugs be named just any old thing? Is there anything preventing a company from calling its active ingredient supercurol? Well, yes. The U.S. Adopted Names Council. It has some rules, including the following:

  • “Prefixes that imply ‘better,’ ‘newer,’ or ‘more effective;’ prefixes that evoke the name of the sponsor, dosage form, duration of action or rate of drug release should not be used.”
  • “Prefixes that refer to an anatomical connotation or medical condition are not acceptable.”
  • Certain letters or sets of letters also aren’t allowed at the beginning of new generic names. These include me, str, x, and z.

Every name has two main parts. The back half of the drug name is the same for all drugs in a particular class — for instance, there are a whole raft of cholesterol-lowering drugs that end in -vastatin: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin (Zocor), and several others. Some other class suffixes include:

  • -oxetine for a class of antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • -sartan for a class of blood-pressure-lowering drugs, such as losartan (Cozaar)
  • -afil for a class of drugs used for erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra)
  • -lukast for a class of anti-asthma drugs, such as montelukast (Singulair)
  • -azepam for a class of anti-anxiety medications, such as diazepam (Valium)
  • -coxib for a class of anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • -dronate for a class of drugs that prevent calcium loss, such as alendronate (Fosamax)
  • -formin for one class of diabetes drugs, such as metformin (Glucophage), and -glitazone for another class, such as rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • -prazole for a class of stomach acid reducers, such as esomeprazole (Prilosec)
  • -conazole for a class of anti-fungals
  • -vir for antivirals, with a number of subclasses, including -amivir for a class that includes the anti-flu drug zanamivir (Relenza), -ciclovir for a class that treats herpes (such as famciclovir (Famvir)), and ­-navir for antiretrovirals for HIV treatment, such as indinavir (Crixivan)
  • -stat for enzyme inhibitors, with a whole bunch of subclasses — for instance, –becestat means it’s a beta secretase inhibitor (doesn’t that help you? It would if you were a pharmacist)

So where do these suffixes come from? They used to often be based on the full chemical name, but now they’re sometimes based on particular descriptive terms: -mab for monoclonal antibodies, -sertib for serine/threonine kinase inhibitors, -mer for polymers, or -imod for immunomodulators. And sometimes they’re just made up. If you’re the first company to come up with a drug in that class, you may get to set the pattern that all the others who come after have to follow.

As to the prefix (what comes before the suffix to identify the individual drug), you can make it pretty much whatever you want — subject to the USANC’s rules and approval. And then it’s just up to the clinical trials to show it’s effective… and to doctors, patients, and marketing departments to make it successful. Or not. But if it is, you can bet everyone will call it by the brand name anyway.

How to name a new drug

You’ve seen the TV ads — the latest drugs touting treatment (along with what seems a never-ending, speedy narration of possible side effects).

And, of course, with each new drug comes a new name.

Who comes up with these strange drug names?

Actually, there is a method to the madness, even though the names of many drugs seem to have come right out of a science-fiction movie (see the quiz below).

For instance, Lunesta (whose generic name is even stranger — Eszopiclone) is used to treat insomnia. It makes sense that the name evokes the moon, which in turn makes you think of night and sleep.

Many drug names are derived from the name of their generic equivalent, chemical composition or what they’re designed to treat. For example, -vir at the end of a drug name such as acyclovir means that the drug is designed to treat viruses.

Every drug has three names: a brand name, a generic name, and a long chemical name. Drug companies submit proposed names to the Adopted Names Council, a group with representation from the American Medical Association, United States Pharmacopeia and the American Pharmacists Association, along with representation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and an at-large member.

Drug name criteria: Short and to the point

According to the USAN, a drug name should have no more than four syllables and meet three suitability criteria:

  • Safety for use in routine prescribing, ordering, dispensing and administering drugs in the U.S.;
  • Use in educational programs for medically oriented professions and for scientific and lay publications;
  • Use internationally in drug identification, the exchange of information and translation into different languages.

Is it a drug or from ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Star Trek’

Because the names of these drugs are sometimes so strange, and because we could all use a little fun, here is a short quiz. Choose whether the drug name is an actual drug name or the name of an alien planet, race or thing. See how you did below.


1. Real drug, used to treat psoriasis. (Not to be confused with Maltz, a Klingon from “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” played by John Larroquette.)

2. Alien race of pale aliens with cute antennae from “Star Trek.”

3. Real drug, used to treat bipolar disorder. (It just sounds like it should be the name of an alien world).

4. Real drug, used to treat symptoms of diabetes. (You may remember the catchy jingle, to the tune of the ’70s Pilot song “Magic.”)

5. Real drug, used to treat skin tumors (not to be confused with Alderaan, Princess Leia’s home planet in “Star Wars”).

6. Alien race from “Star Trek: Voyager,” known for their short lifespans.

7. Real drug, used to treat macular degeneration and other disorders.

8. Alien race from “Star Trek,” known for their computer skills.

9. Although it sounds like an alien planet, it’s a real drug, used to treat pneumococcal pneumonia.

10. Alien moon from “Star Wars. Home of the famous Ewoks.” (OK, this was an easy one.)

How to name a new drug

Many people struggling with drug addiction often refer to drugs by their street names. A wide variety of drugs have street names, including prescription drugs. Drug slang allows people using substances to talk about them discreetly. It is common for family and friends of drug users to be trying to decipher phrases, texts, or comments to crack the code and better understand what is going on with their loved one. If you suspect that someone may be using drugs, it is important to discern the different words and phrases associated with drugs and drug use. Since addiction is a disease and a person may want to quit but cannot get themselves to, professional help with rehabilitation is their best bet to get back on their feet and back to their best life. The list of street names for drugs is extensive and used for many different reasons. Being informed about these undercover terms may potentially save someone’s life.

1. Cocaine

Blow, C, candy, coke, do a line, freeze, girl, happy dust, Mama coca, mojo, monster, nose, pimp, shot, smoking gun, snow, sugar, sweet stuff, and white powder.

2. Crack (a form of cocaine, smokeable)

Base, beat, blast, casper, chalk, devil drug, gravel, hardball, hell, kryptonite, love, moonrocks, rock, scrabble, stones and tornado.

3. Depressants

Backwards, blue heavens, downie, drowsy high, green dragons, idiot pills, joy juice, M&M, no worries, peanut, rainbows, red bullets, stoppers, stumbler, tooles and yellow.

4. Fentanyl

Apache, China girl, China town, dance fever, friend, goodfellas, great bear, he-man, jackpot, king ivory, murder 8, poison, tango and cash and TNT.

5. GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid)

Caps, cherry meth, ever clear, easy lay, fantasy, G, G-riffic, gamma hydrate, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid ecstasy, liquid X, soap and sodium oxybate.

6. Heroin

Aunt Hazel, big H, black pearl, brown sugar, capital H, charley, china white, dope, good horse, H, hard stuff, hero, heroina, little boy, mud, perfect high, smack, stuff and tar.

7. Inhalants

Air blast, bolt, boppers, bullet bolt, climax, discorama, hardware, heart-on, highball, honey oil, huff, laughing gas, medusa, moon gas, satan’s secret, thrust and whiteout.

8. Ketamine

Bump, cat killer, cat valium, fort dodge, green, honey oil, jet, K, ket, kit kat, psychedelic heroin, purple, special “K”, special la coke, super acid, super C and vitamin K.

9. LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)

A, Acid, black star, blotter, boomers, cubes, Elvis, golden dragon, L, microdot, paper acid, pink robots, superman, twenty-five, yellow sunshine and ying yang.

10. Marijuana

420, Aunt Mary, baby, bobby, boom, chira, chronic, ditch, ganja, grass, greens, hash, herb, Mary Jane, nigra, Pot, reefer, rip, root, skunk, stack, torch, weed and zambi.

11. MDMA (Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine)

Adam, bean, blue kisses, clarity, club drug, disco biscuits, E, ecstasy, hug drug, love drug, lover’s speed, Mercedes, Molly, New Yorkers, peace, roll, white dove, X and XTC.

12. Mescaline

Beans, buttons, cactus, cactus buttons, cactus head, chief, love trip, mesc, mescal, mezc, moon, peyote and topi.

13. Methamphetamine

Beannies, blue devils, chalk, CR, crank, crystal, crystal meth, fast, granulated orange, ice, meth, Mexican crack, pink, rock, speckled birds, speed, tina and yellow powder.

14. Methcathinone

Bathtub speed, Cadillac express, cat, crank, ephedrone, gagers, go-fast, goob, qat, slick superspeed, star, the C, tweeker, wild cat and wonder star.

15. Opium

Ah-pen-yen, aunti, big O, black stuff, Chinese tobacco, chocolate, dopium, dover’s deck, dream gun, hard stuff, hocus, joy plant, O, ope, pin yen, toxy and zero.

16. PCP (Phencyclidine)

Angel dust, belladonna, black whack, CJ, cliffhanger, crystal joint, Detroit pink, elephant tranquilizer, hog, magic, Peter Pan, sheets, soma, TAC, trank, white horizon and zoom.

17. Psilocybin/psilocin

Boomers, god’s flesh, little smoke, magic mushroom, Mexican mushrooms, mushrooms, musk, sherm, shrooms, silly putty and simple simon.

18. Ritalin

Crackers, one and ones, pharming, poor man’s heroin, R-ball, ritz an ts, set, skippy, speedball, ts and ritz, ts and rs, vitamin R and west coast.

19. Rohypnol

Circles, forget-me pill, la rocha, lunch money drug, Mexican valium, pingus, R2, Reynolds, roche, roofies, rope, ruffles and wolfies.

20. Steroids

Abolic, anadrol, arnolds, bolasterone, dihydrolone, equipose, gym candy, juice, methyl testosterone, proviron, pumpers, stackers, therobolin, weight trainers and winstrol V.

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Serving as both Dietary Service Supervisor and Certified Activity Director, Jeff Johnson has a variety of oversight duties for Casa Palmera. He is in charge of daily operations, which includes dietary supervision to ensure quality assurance and compliance with state and The Joint Commission regulations, as well as serving as the clinical liaison. Learn more…

NIDA. “What Are Date Rape Drugs and How Do You Avoid Them?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16 Mar. 2015,

NIDA. What Are Date Rape Drugs and How Do You Avoid Them?. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. March 16, 2015.

How to name a new drug

You may have been warned that sometimes people secretly slip drugs into other people’s drinks to take advantage of them sexually. These drugs are called “date rape drugs.”

Date rape, also known as “drug-facilitated sexual assault,” is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. It may come from someone you know, someone may have just met, and/or someone thought you could trust.

Date rape drugs can make people become physically weak or pass out. This is why people who want to rape someone use them—because they leave individuals unable to protect themselves.

Many of these drugs have no color, smell, or taste, and people often do not know that they’ve taken anything. Many times people who have been drugged (usually girls or women, but not always) are unable to remember what happened to them.

The dangerous three

The three most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol® (flunitrazepam), GHB (gamma hydroxybutryic acid), and ketamine.

  • Rohypnol (also known as roofies, forget-me-pill, and R-2) is a type of prescription pill known as a benzodiazepine—it’s chemically similar to drugs such as Valium or Xanax, but unlike these drugs, it is not approved for medical use in this country.
    • It has no taste or smell and is sometimes colorless when dissolved in a drink.
    • People who take it can feel very sleepy and confused and forget what happens after its effects kick in.
    • It can also cause weakness and trouble breathing, and can make it difficult for those who have taken it to move their body.
    • The effects of Rohypnol can be felt within 30 minutes of being drugged and can last for several hours.
    • To prevent misuse of Rohypnol, the manufacturer recently changed the pill to look like an oblong olive green tablet with a speckled blue core. When dissolved in light-colored drinks, the new pills dye the liquid blue and alert people that their drink has been tampered with. Unfortunately, generic versions of Rohypnol may not contain the blue dye.
    • It can cause a person to throw up; it can also slow their heart rate and make it hard to breathe.
    • At high doses, it can result in a coma or death.
    • It’s a tasteless, odorless drug that can be a powder or liquid. It’s colorless when dissolved in a drink.
    • Mixing it with alcohol makes these effects worse.
    • GHB can take effect in 15 to 30 minutes, and the effects may last for 3 to 6 hours.
    • It’s a tasteless, odorless drug that can be a powder or liquid.
    • It can cause hallucinations and make people feel totally out of it.
    • It can also increase heartbeat, raise blood pressure, and cause nausea.
    • The effects of ketamine may last for 30 to 60 minutes.

    All drugs lower your defenses

    It’s important to remember that all drugs affect how well your mind and body operate. In fact, alcohol is linked to far more date rapes than the drugs we’ve mentioned here. And nearly all drugs of abuse make people vulnerable to being taken advantage of—by impairing their judgment, reducing their reaction time, and clouding their thinking.

    And as disgusting as it is to think about, when you don’t have your wits about you, someone may take that as an opportunity to push themselves on you.

    How can you avoid date rape drugs?

    If you’re at a party where people are drinking alcohol, you should be aware that there could be predators hoping to make you drunk or vulnerable. No matter what you’re drinking, even if it’s soda or juice, people can slip drugs in your drinks—so pour all drinks yourself and never leave them unattended (even if you have to take them into the bathroom with you).

    Also, be sure to stick with your friends. There’s safety in numbers.

    But even if you leave your drink or leave your friends behind, know this for certain: if you are drugged and taken advantage of, it’s not your fault.

    Bottom line: People who date rape other people are committing a crime.

    Check out the new “It’s On Us” campaign, sponsored by the White House. It encourages all of us—men and women—to create an environment where women are safe. “It’s On Us” asks each one of us to be more than a bystander, stop a sexual assault any way we can, and never blame the victim.

    If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, visit the Office on Women’s Health to find help in your state.

    Revenue generated from drug production in the United States has more than doubled in the past 10 years. In 2016 alone, the U.S. brought in more than $328.6 billion in prescription drugs sold in retail outlets.   The major key to this high revenue is repetitive price increases.

    Drug companies have an unusual ability to function relatively unregulated and to raise drug prices beyond inflation rates. This allows the drug companies to increase their revenues continually, even if the demand for one or more drugs is not high. The result has been a huge outpacing of demand in the United States. For example, from 2010 to 2015, the growth of prescription drug revenue for 30 top-selling drugs averaged 61%, which was three times higher than the increase in prescriptions for those drugs.   By 2024, worldwide sales of prescription drugs are predicted to reach $1.18 trillion.

    Key Takeaways

    • In the United States, the price of prescription drugs is relatively unregulated, enabling pharmaceutical companies to increase their drug prices beyond inflation rates and regardless of demand.
    • The majority of a pharmaceutical company’s revenue comes from steadily increasing prices of drugs that have been on the market for some time.
    • When pricing their drugs, pharmaceutical companies consider a drug's uniqueness, competition from other companies, and a drug's effectiveness.
    • Companies also consider the huge research and development (R&D) costs incurred to bring a drug to market, a consideration that often leads to high prices for new drugs.

    Exorbitant Drug Costs

    The news media in the U.S. has put a great deal of focus on pharmaceutical companies that have released new drugs with sky-high prices. There has also been increased focus on previously released drugs under new ownership that have undergone abruptly increased prices. Drug companies do this, of course, to generate revenue.

    However, the majority of a company’s revenue comes from a pattern of steadily increasing prices of drugs that have been on the market for some time. The number of drugs that drug companies have in their pipelines will also affect each drug’s price.

    How Drugs Are Priced

    Because of drug companies’ pricing power and their ability to increase prices without regulation, the worry about sluggish demand is far down on the list of concerns in relation to pricing. Pharmaceutical companies concern themselves with a variety of factors when pricing drugs.

    Drug Uniqueness

    The uniqueness of the drug must be considered. That is, how many other drugs are already available that treat the same condition. If the market is heavily saturated with drugs to treat a certain condition, new drugs for the same condition will likely be priced lower.


    Competition is another factor that affects pricing. Drug companies must consider the popularity and success of the drug’s competition, and they must determine if new drugs have added benefits over competing drugs. Additional benefits lead to higher prices.

    Drug Effectiveness

    Drug companies must consider whether new drugs have the potential (or have proven through clinical trials) to change the current practice of medicine used to treat the conditions the drugs target. The companies must also consider whether their drugs can prevent the need for certain medical treatments or the necessity for surgeries or other procedures.

    Drugs that can cut down on expensive surgeries, hospital trips, and doctor visits are often priced higher because of the savings they offer customers on the back end. Drug companies also issue higher prices to drugs that can extend or even save lives.

    Ultimately, the main objective of pharmaceutical companies when pricing drugs is to generate the most revenue. This often means facing competition, which serves to drive prices lower. However, drug companies have balanced pricing drugs too low with the ability to enact price increases at steady intervals.

    Issue of Pricing

    Pricing a drug incorrectly is one of the biggest mistakes a drug company can make. Pricing a drug too low or too high has a great impact on its potential for success. If, for example, a drug is priced too high, payers may be unwilling to reimburse for it or physicians may be disinclined to prescribe it. They may believe the drug is not worth the high cost if it is likely that it will offer too little benefit to warrant the cost. On the other hand, if a drug is priced too low, physicians may conclude that it offers a discounted form of therapy, less effective than a more expensive drug that already exists.

    The research and development (R&D) surrounding each drug is another monumentally important issue in regard to pricing. The amount of time, effort, and money that a pharmaceutical company invests in the R&D for each drug must be weighed when the drug is priced. This often leads to higher prices to ensure that the revenue generated will exceed the expenditures behind the drug’s development.

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