In medicine, there are the terms "statin" and "medin". For example, there is somatostatin and somatomedin (growth hormone).

It's obvious that somato- is Latin, but what about the rest? Were "statin" and "medin" made up out of thin air in the 1970s by pharmacologists?

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    thefreedictionary says Perhaps somato (tropin) + (inter) med (iary) + -in. – FumbleFingers Apr 9 '16 at 20:26
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    A lot of the names of medications are, in fact, "plucked from thin air" by the drug companies. The larger companies generally have a list of as-yet unused names that their name guys have invented and vetted to be sure that they're "safe", from several aspects. – Hot Licks Apr 9 '16 at 22:11
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    @HotLicks Note that there's a difference between trade names (e.g, Tylenol, Viagra, Lipitor), which are created by marketing departments as you're describing, and scientific names (e.g, paracetamol, sildenafil, atorvastatin), which are created in a more systematic fashion. – duskwuff Apr 10 '16 at 2:36
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    @duskwuff - Only slightly more systematic. The naming guys will take a bunch of characteristics of the drug and combine them. The longer, slightly more descriptive terms go into the "scientific" pile, while the shorter, snappier ones go into the trade name pile. In both cases they develop a list of candidate terms and let the marketing folks pick (though the FDA gets a say with the "scientific" term). – Hot Licks Apr 10 '16 at 2:46

Much of the terminology in medicine is from Latin, some from Greek, and in extremely rare instances, it's made up (usually initially as something humorous.)

-Stat comes from the Latin stare (statum), meaning:

remain, rest; stand, stand still, stand firm

The use of -stat as a suffix usually means that it will make something come to rest, to stop, to stand still.

Hemostasis is the act of stopping bleeding. A tool to clamp a blood vessel is called a hemostat. A bacteriostat stops bacteria from replicating, in contrast to a bacteriocide, which kills the bacteria. Statins are so named because they interfere with (stop or cause to come to rest) the production of cholesterol in the liver.

Somatostatin is a hormone that stops others from being secreted. The -in ending is added because traditionally peptides end in -in. For example, insulin, lactoferrin, hemoglobin, immunoglobulin.

-stat is a very common suffix in medicine.

-Medin comes from the same rood as mediate, the Latin word mediāre (past participle: mediātus), to be in the middle, to intercede, + -in (it's also a peptide.)

A hormone which intercedes (or up-regulates) something else can have the suffix -medin. Somatomedins are hormones that promote cell growth in response to stimulation by growth hormone. It acts as an intermediary, if you will, between a hormone (or step in a reaction) and an effect.

-medin is not a very common suffix in medicine.

The Somatomedins
The Nomenclature of Peptide Hormones

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    It's kind of misleading that an entire group of drugs was described as "statins" when they only stop lipids and not anything else. – D J Sims Apr 10 '16 at 5:29
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    @Mustang - I wasn't involved in naming them. Not my problem. :) – anongoodnurse Apr 10 '16 at 5:32

(This should probably a comment and not an answer, and in fact might be more at home in the HSM site than the English one.)

For the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (the cholesterol-lowering drugs), the first member of the series, lovastatin, was originally named mevinolin by its discoverers at Merck1, and monacolin K by researchers at the Japanese company Sankyo2. The renaming to the USAN "lovastatin" was apparently at the behest of the FDA, and all of the succeeding HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors followed suit with the suffix -statin. Note also the topical antifungal drug nystatin, apparently named after "NY State", but bears no relation to somatostatin or the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

(P.S. I was a pharmaceutical chemist in a former life.)

  • This is fun stuff to know. :) – anongoodnurse Apr 15 '16 at 12:49


  • Medicine Any of a group of drugs which act to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood.



  • Denoting instruments, substances, etc. maintaining a controlled state:


  • (Chemistry) Forming names of organic compounds, pharmaceutical products, proteins, etc.



  • [Latin medius middle + -in]

(Collins Dictionary)

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