Drug (Medication) Dictionary

Use our drug profile search engine to review information about current FDA approved medications for the treatment of Cancer, Rheumatoid, GI and other health conditions.

Drugs or medications may be referred to by different names. Typically, when a drug is first approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical use, the tradename selected by the manufacturer is used. However, the same agent may also be referred to by its chemical name. Once the original manufacturers patent on the drug has expired, other manufacturers, with FDA approval, are allowed to produce and market the same chemical compound which is typically referred to as a "generic" form of the original. Sometimes these manufacturers will market the generic form under a new tradename to help identify it in the marketplace. Finally, the actual chemical name of the compound is sometimes used by medical professionals rather than the tradename or generic name.

What are Biosimilars?

A new class of drugs called biosimilars is becoming increasingly available to consumers. Though these medications are very similar to already available drugs known as biologics, biosimilars are just now beginning to receive approval from the U.S. FDA.

To understand biosimilars and how they work, it's important to first understand their predecessors, biologics. These drugs are approved by the FDA and used in treatment of a wide range of conditions and illnesses, from rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to various forms of cancer as well as allergy shots and vaccines. Biologics are made from living organisms, including human sources, animals, bacteria, and yeast. Their makeup is incredibly complex, as is their development process.

A drug qualifies as a biosimilar if it is very similar to a FDA-approved biologic-similar in how it's composed, how it works, and its safety. The preceding biologic drug is often called a reference medicine.

Biosimilars are different from generic medicines. Whereas generics and the original (trademarked) drug have identical active ingredients, such exact replication isn't possible due to the complexity of biologics. As a result, biosimilars are similar to the reference medicine, but not identical. They must have very similar treatment outcomes and safety profiles to the biologic.

Our drug dictionary is organized by alphabet, including both generic and trade names. Alternately, you may view a list of drugs by "class".

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