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The search results page gives the name(s) of the drug, a summary of the drug’s actions, and where to find additional information.

The Drug Name is usually the official generic name for a drug.  The source of the generic name follows in brackets if available.  Following are acronyms for some of the types of generic names.

  • USAN United States Adopted Name.
  • INN International Nonproprietary Name.
  • BAN British Approved Name.
  • JAN Japanese Approved Name.
  • DCF French Approved Name.

Drug names are often structured to give an indication of use.  For example, the ending “azepam” as in Diazepam (Valium) shows that the drug has anti-anxiety activity as you might expect for Valium.  You may browse a table of these generic name stems showing the correspondence of an ending to a drug class.

The Category in the search results page gives the general use for a particular drug and is derived from the NLM MeSH Pharmacological Action (PA) Field.  An example for diazepam is:

                        Anti-Anxiety Agents

If one or more categories are displayed for a particular drug, you may search on a selected category to identify other drugs that include this NLM MeSH Pharmacological Action drug category.  A list of these categories and their definitions can be viewed by selecting the information button.  If a particular Category is selected, the information button will show its definition.

The Description is a summary of what the drug is, and what it does.  A description is usually taken from the Note field of the NLM MeSH file.  An example for diazepam is:

“A Benzodiazepine with anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, and amnesic properties and a long duration of action.  Its actions are mediated by enhancement of GABA activity.  It is used in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders, as a hypnotic in the short-term management of insomnia, as a sedative and premedicant, as an anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.  (From Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p589)”

MedlinePlus and DailyMed also provide summaries of the use of a drug if they have data for the particular drug that you have searched.