Drugs are usually identified by a generic or nonproprietary name, as well as a brand name.
The latter is developed by the manufacturer and varies from country. (More about that in a moment.) The former is the easiest way to identify a drug no matter the country where you are buying it. This is known as the International Nonproprietary Name (INN), which WHO describes thus, "International Nonproprietary Names (INN) facilitate the identification of pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients. Each INN is a unique name that is globally recognized and is public property."
For example, paracetamol is the INN for a pain reliever that is marketed as Tylenol in the USA, and as Doliprane in France. This gets confusing when the brand name is nearly the same in the USA and France, with slight adjustments to presumably make it more relevant to the target country population.
Lasix vs Lasilix (furosemide)
Dificid vs Dificlir (fidaxomicin)
Slow-K vs Diffu-K (potassium chloride)
On the left, you have the US English, the right is the French, and the generic name is in parentheses. See the difference?!
Identifying the correct drug name is an essential skill in medical translation. After all, our goal is to make sure the professional or patient reading our work is correctly informed.
A medical science translator sharing her findings, thoughts, and experiences.