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Can You Pronounce Hydrochlorothiazide?

Common Medications Need Common Names

Jim Shea

February 8, 2012

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You get a bunch of baby boomers together and inevitably the conversation turns to aches and pains.

This, of course, is a topic to which everyone can relate. The only baby boomers who don't have something to moan and groan about at this stage are the ones who are no longer with us.

Now, I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I can usually keep up, until, that is, the discussion turns to the various medications people are on.

At this point I usually feel like I have dropped in on the tail end of happy hour at the pharmacy.

The average prescription drug has more letters in its name than the remaining life expectancy of the person taking it.

I used to try to pronounce drug names, but then I pulled something in my tongue. The tongue doesn't have an ACL, does it?

Drug manufacturers recognize this, which is why they give their products aliases … to no avail in my opinion. I mean, I don't find it at all helpful that hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic, is also known as HydroDIURIL.

What a prescription drug like this needs is a short nickname, one that can be easily pronounced and one that succinctly describes what the medication actually does.

For example, if you were talking about hydrochlorothiazide, which helps you eliminate water, why not just call it Wiz? You won't run out of breath saying it, and everyone will know exactly what you are talking about.

Or take Metformin HCL (glucophage), a diabetes drug. Someone overhears you saying you take glucophage and they're going to think you are trying to clear your throat. No, better to go with something less guttural. I'm thinking why not just call it Bob?

Even when a drug has a nickname that can be easily pronounced, it doesn't mean there aren't problems.

For instance, the popular painkiller hydrocodone acetaminophen is widely known as Vicodin. And yes, Vicodin is both a pithy and pronounceable moniker.

But it sounds too, I don't know, potent, like something one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey might take if she saw a wrinkle.

Why not just call it Fuzzy? No one ever hurt their tongue saying Fuzzy.