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Generic Drug Name Stems Cheat Sheet

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By Matt Vera BSN, R.N.

If you are studying nursing pharmacology, a great way of understanding and memorizing the use and function of medication is to familiarize yourself with 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 many different brand names may sell a drug, or a branded medication may contain more than one drug.

Common Drug Stems Cheat Sheet

Below is a cheat sheet table with 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 middle of the generic name. You can also download the cheat sheet below.

–acNSAID (acetic acid derivatives)bromfenac, dexpemedolac
–adol–mixed opiate receptor agonists/antagonistslevonantradol, spiradoline, tazadolene
–afilInhibitor of PDE5 with vasodilator actionsildenafil (viagra), tadalafil
–alolCombined alpha and beta blockerslabetalol, medroxalol
–anibAngiogenesis inhibitors (inhibits growth of new blood vessels)Pazopanib, Vandetanib
–anserinSerotonin 5–HT(sub)2 receptor antagonistsaltanserin, tropanserin
–arabineAntineoplastics (arabinofuranosyl derivatives)fludarabine
–aseEnzymesalglucerase, dornase alfa
–atadineTricyclic antiasthmaticsolopatadine, loratadine
–axineAntianxiety, antidepressantvenlafaxine
–azenilBenzodiazepine receptor agonists/antagonistsbretazenil, flumazenil
–azepamAntianxiety agents (diazepam type)lorazepam, diazepam
–azepideCholecystokinin receptor antagonistsdevazepide
–azocineNarcotic antagonists/agonistsquadazocine, ketazocine
–azolineAntihistamines/local vasoconstrictorsantazoline
–azosinAntihypertensives (prazosin type)doxazosin
–bactamBeta–lactamase inhibitorssulbactam
–bamateTranquilizers/antiepilepticsmeprobamate, felbamate
–barb–Barbituric acid derivativesphenobarbital, secobarbital
–bersatAnticonvulsants; antimigrainecarabersat; tidembersat
–bufenNSAID (fenbufen derivatives)indobufen
–butanAntisepticsdapabutan, lopbutan
–butazoneAnti–inflammatory analgesics (phenylbutazone type)mofebutazone
–caineLocal anestheticslidocaine, dibucaine
–carbefAntibiotics (carbacephem derivatives)loracarbef
–cillinPenicillinsampicillin, penicillin, oxacillin
–cogblood coagulation factorseptacog alfa, nonacog alfa, octocog alfa
–conazoleAntifungals (miconazole type)fluconazole, oxiconazole
–cort–Cortisone derivativeshydrocortisone
–curiumNeuromuscular blocking agentsatracurium
–cyclineAntibiotics (tetracycline type)minocycline, tetracycline
–dralazineAntihypertensives (hydrazine–phthalazines)hydralazine
–dronateCalcium metabolism regulatorsetidronate, tiludronate
–ectinAntiparasitics (ivermectin type)doramectin, moxidectin
–erg–Ergot alkaloid derivativespergolide
–fenamic acidAnti-inflammatory agentsmefenamic acid, flufenamic acid
–fentanilNarcotic analgesicsalfentanil, mirfentanil
–fluraneInhalation anestheticsenflurane, isoflurane
–gilineMAO-inhibitors, type Bselegiline
–gillinAntibiotics (aspergillus strains)mitogillin
–glitazarAntihyperglycemics, PPRA agonistsfarglitazar
–glizatoneAntihyperglycemics, PPST agonistsciglitazone, rosiglitazone
–grel–Platelet aggregation inhibitorclopidogrel, ticagrelor
–imexImmunostimulantsforfenimex, roquinimex
–imusImmunosuppresivestacrolimus, napirimus, gusperimus
–leukinInterleukin–2 derivativesteceleukin, aldesleukin
–lukastLeukotriene antagonistsmontelukast, zafirlukast
–mabMonoclonal antibodiescapromab, daclizumab, detumomab
–milastAntiasthmatics/antiallergics; type IV phosphodiesterase inhibitorspiclamilast
–monamMonobactam antibioticsgloximonam
–mycinAntibiotics (streptomyces strains)lincomycin
–ololBeta–blockers (propranolol type)timolol, atenolol
–oloneSteroids (no prednisone derivatives)minaxolone
–orphanNarcotic antagonists/agonistsmethrophan, dextrorphan
–oxacinAntibiotics (quinolone derivatives)difloxacin, ciprofloxacin
–oxetineAntidepressantsduloxetine, reboxetine
–pamideDiuretics (sulfamoylbenzoic acid derivatives)adipamide
–pamilCoronary vasodilatorstiapamil
–parinHeparin derivativesheparin, tinzaparin, dalteparin
–peridolAntipsychotics (haloperidol type)haloperidol
–peridoneAntispsychotics (risperidone type)risperidone, iloperidone
–pidemHypnotics/sedatives (zolpidem)zolpidem, alpidem
–piridineCognition enhancerslinopiridine, besipiridine
–poetinErythropoietinsepoetin alfa, epoetin beta
–pramineAntidepressants (imipramine type)lofepramine
–prazoleProton-pump inhibitoromeprazole, lansoprazole
–pred–Prednisone derivativesprednicarbate, cloprednol
–prilAntihypertensives (ACE inhibitors)captopril, temocapril, spirapril
–profenAnti–inflammatory/analgesic agents (ibuprofen type)flurbiprofen
–prost–Prostaglandin analoguelatanoprost, unoprostone
–rubicinAntineoplastic antibiotics (daunorubicin type)epirubicin, idarubicin
–sartanAngiotensin II receptor antagonistslosartan, eprosartan
–statinRenal dehydropeptidase inhibitor pepsin inhibitorcilastatin, pepstatin
–ster–Steroids (androgens, anabolics)testosterone
–sulfaAntibiotics (sulfonamide derivatives)sulfasalazine
–tegrastAntiasthmatics/antiallergics; integrin antagonistsvalategrast
–terolBronchodilators (phenethylamine derivatives)albuterol
–thiazideDiuretics (thiazide derivatives)chlorothiazide
–tidepeptides and glycopeptidesNesiritide, Octreotide
–tocinOxytocin derivativesoxytocin, pitocin
–trexateAntimetabolites (folic acid derivatives)methotrexate
–trodastAntiasthmatics/antiallergics; thromboxane A2 receptor antagonistsseratrodast
–uracilUracil derivatives used as thyroid antagonists and as antineoplasticsfluorouracil
–vastatinAntihyperlipidemics (HMG–CoA inhibitors)lovastatin, simvastatin
–zolastAntiasthmatics/antiallergics; benzoxazole derivativeseclazolast, ontazolast
–zumabhumanized antibodiesnatalizumab, bevacizumab
bol–, –bol–Anabolic steroidsbolandiol, mibolerone
cef–Cephalosporins (first-gen)cefazolin
vir-, -vir- or -virAntiviral substances (undefined group)viroxime, envirodyne, ganciclovir

Download Drug Stem Cheat Sheet

Need to download our drug stem cheat sheets? Click on the images below to see the high-quality resolution of the image. Please feel free to print, share, and use it in your presentation or reports!

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Lehne’s Pharmacology for Nursing Care (11th Edition)
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Matt Vera, a registered nurse since 2009, leverages his experiences as a former student struggling with complex nursing topics to help aspiring nurses as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs, simplifying the learning process, breaking down complicated subjects, and finding innovative ways to assist students in reaching their full potential as future healthcare providers.

8 thoughts on “Generic Drug Name Stems Cheat Sheet”

  1. Dear, I am the nursing Director at ALERT Hospital Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
    Realy, you did a good job. I used a lot of documents.
    Keep it up. God bless you
    Thank U

    • Hi Jennifer,
      You’re welcome! It’s truly heartening to hear such kind words. If there’s anything more I can do to assist or any questions you have, please feel free to ask. Your support and feedback mean a lot.


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