Does anybody know if there are any rules to guide whether to spell a drug compound's name with a simple 'n' or an 'ne' at the ending? E.g. sumatriptan, indomethacin, naproxen, aspirin vs. adrenaline, ergotamine, domperidone...

  • No, there aren't, because (most of them) are just names chosen by pharmaceutical companies.
    – Glorfindel
    Jan 12, 2017 at 9:50
  • Yes, there are. Although they are conventions rather than rules. The ending indicates the type of drug and is recognisable by pharmacists.
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 12, 2017 at 10:09
  • Sure, but I specifically mean the 'n' or an 'ne' at the ending as shown in the examples...
    – dorika1979
    Jan 12, 2017 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a convention in the pharmaceutical industry regarding the naming of drugs.

A guide to this is here in Google books.

This is similar to the convention in Chemistry whereby the ending of a chemical name indicates the class of chemical to which it belongs.

However, this is a convention not a rule. Not all drugs are named this way and there may be differences between generic names and trade names.

In your specific question -in, -ine, -on and -one indicate different drug types.

In any case, drug names are proper nouns, and therefore don't necessarily follow any English grammatical conventions.

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