The need to identify each pharmaceutical substance by a unique and universally applicable nonproprietary name has long been recognized. WHO is carrying out a programme on the standardization of drug nomenclature and has published International Nonproprietary Names (INN) for over 4000 pharmaceutical substances.1 Comprehensive information on the programme can be found in the twentieth report of the WHO Expert Committee on Nonproprietary Names for Pharmaceutical Substances (10).
1 INN for over 6800 pharmaceutical substances have now been published (see inside back cover for details of the latest cumulative list).
When a new drug is introduced into a country, the active ingredients should be properly identified on the label by INN or, if these are not available, by other established nonproprietary names. The names in question should also be used in all official texts.