Generic Drug Name Stems Cheat Sheet

Common Generic Name Drug Stems Cheat Sheets Free Download

Another great way of understanding and memorizing the use and function of medication is to know its generic name stem. Usually, drugs of the same therapeutic class are given names with the same stem. These stems are mostly placed word-finally (suffix), but in some cases, word-initial (prefix) stems are also used.

Stems are useful for making communication of drugs more precise to avoid prescribing errors. Having an unambiguous standard of names for each drug is important because a drug may be sold by many different brand names, or a branded medication may contain more than one drug.

The hyphens indicate the position of the stem, prefix, infix or suffix, within the INN. In the event that the hyphen is absent, the stem may be used in any position within the name.


Below is a cheat sheet table that has three columns: Drug Stem, Drug Class, and an Example. Each stem has hyphens at one or both ends of its text to show that it is found at the beginning, end, or in the middle of the generic name. You can also download the cheat sheet below.

Common Drug Stems Cheat Sheet

Drug StemDrug Class and/or
Stem Explanation
–alolCombined alpha and beta blockerslabetalol, medroxalol
–anserinSerotonin 5–HT(sub)2 receptor antagonistsaltanserin, tropanserin, altanserin
–arabineAntineoplastics (arabinofuranosyl derivatives)fludarabine
–aseEnzymesalglucerase, dornase alfa
–azepamAntianxiety agents (diazepam type)lorazepam
–azosinAntihypertensives (prazosin type)doxazosin
–bactamBeta–lactamase inhibitorssulbactam
–bamateTranquilizers/antiepilepticsmeprobamate, felbamate
–barbBarbituric acid derivativesphenobarbital
–butazoneAnti–inflammatory analgesics (phenylbutazone type)mofebutazone
–caineLocal anestheticsdibucaine
–conazoleAntifungals (miconazole type)fluconazole, oxiconazole
–cort–Cortisone derivativeshydrocortisone
–curiumNeuromuscular blocking agentsatracurium
–cyclineAntibiotics (tetracycline type)minocycline
–dralazineAntihypertensives (hydrazine–phthalazines)hydralazine
–erg–Ergot alkaloid derivativespergolide
–fluraneInhalation anestheticsenflurane, isoflurane
–leukinInterleukin–2 derivativesteceleukin, aldesleukin
–lukastLeukotriene antagonistsmontelukast, zafirlukast
–mabMonoclonal antibodiescapromab, daclizumab, detumomab,
–monamMonobactam antibioticsgloximonam
–mycinAntibiotics (streptomyces strains)lincomycin
–ololBeta–blockers (propranolol type)timolol, atenolol
–oloneSteroids (no prednisone derivatives)minaxolone
–oxacinAntibiotics (quinolone derivatives)difloxacin, ciprofloxacin
–pamideDiuretics (sulfamoylbenzoic acid derivatives)adipamide
–pamilCoronary vasodilatorstiapamil
–parinHeparin derivatives and low molecular weight (or depolymerized) heparinsheparin, tinzaparin, dalteparin
–peridolAntipsychotics (haloperidol type)haloperidol
–poetinErythropoietinsepoetin alfa, epoetin beta
–pramineAntidepressants (imipramine type)lofepramine
–predPrednisone derivativesprednicarbate, cloprednol
–prilAntihypertensives (ACE inhibitors)enalapril, temocapril, spirapril
–profenAnti–inflammatory/analgesic agents (ibuprofen type)flurbiprofen
–rubicinAntineoplastic antibiotics (daunorubicin type)epirubicin, idarubicin
–sartanAngiotensin II receptor antagonistslosartan, eprosartan
–sulfaAntibiotics (sulfonamide derivatives)sulfasalazine
–thiazideDiuretics (thiazide derivatives)chlorothiazide
–tocinOxytocin derivativesoxytocin, pitocin
–trexateAntimetabolites (folic acid derivatives)methotrexate
-uracilUracil derivatives used as thyroid antagonists and as antineoplasticsfluorouracil
–vastatinAntihyperlipidemics (HMG–CoA inhibitors)lovastatin, simvastatin
vir-, -vir- or -virAntiviral substances (undefined group)viroxime, envirodyne, ganciclovir
Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics and finding help online is near to impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses through the creation of content and lectures that is easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire students in nursing. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, breakdown complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.


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