Clinical Pharmacy

Must-Know Medicine Prefixes and Suffixes!

Sep 7th, 2020
medicine prefixes and suffixes

When you first begin to study drugs, one thing hits you very, very quickly – namely, the sheer volume of drug names and categories that need to be committed to memory. In an earlier post, we reviewed some great techniques to memorize drug side effects. There, we learned how to categorize and compartmentalize our study – adding a defined structure that lets us study easier, quicker and more efficiently.

We can do the same thing with medicine prefixes and suffixes. There are broad families of medicines which have either the same suffix, root or prefix. Even if we haven’t seen the medicine name before, we can infer what the medicine is used to treat and what mechanism of action it has. In fact, we can even infer what side effects and drug interactions the drug is likely to have.

Take ACE inhibitors, for example. ACE inhibitors have the common suffix –pril. Examples include captopril, ramipril and perindopril. As a group, ACE inhibitors are associated with a distinct range of side effects – a persistent, dry cough being the most prominent example. Becoming familiar with drug prefixes and suffixes, then, opens up an enormous opportunity not only to commit drug classes and members to memory but also side effects and drug interactions, too.

Below, we’ve tabulated many of the most commonly encountered medicine prefixes and suffixes; a great tool to aid your study of pharmacology.

Medicine Prefixes and Suffixes

SuffixDrug examplesMedicine category
-afilavanafil; sildenafil; tadalafil; vardenafilphosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor
-asonebetamethasone; dexamethasone; diflorasone; fluticasone; mometasonecorticosteroid
-bicindoxorubicin; epirubicin; idarubicin; valrubicinantineoplastic; cytotoxic agent
-bitalbutabarbital; butalbital; phenobarbital; secobarbitalbarbiturate (sedative)
-cainebupivacaine; lidocaine; mepivacaine; prilocaine; proparacainelocal anesthetic
cef-, ceph-cefaclor; cefdinir; cefixime; cefprozil; cephalexincephalosporin antibiotic
-cillinamoxicillin; ampicillin; dicloxacillin; nafcillin; oxacillinpenicillin antibiotic
cortclocortolone; fludrocortisone; hydrocortisonecorticosteroid
-cyclinedemeclocycline; doxycycline; minocycline; tetracyclinetetracycline antibiotic
-dazolealbendazole; mebendazole; metronidazole; tinidazoleanthelmintic; antibiotic; antibacterial
-dipineamlodipine; felodipine; nifedipine; nimodipine; nisoldipinecalcium channel blocker
-dronatealendronate; etidronate; ibandronate; risedronatebisphosphonate; bone resorption inhibitor
-eprazoleesomeprazole; omeprazole; rabeprazoleproton pump inhibitor (PPI)
-fenacbromfenac; diclofenac; nepafenacNSAID
-floxacinbesifloxacin; ciprofloxacin; levofloxacin; moxifloxacin; ofloxacinquinolone antibiotic
-gliptinsaxagliptin; sitagliptin; linagliptinantidiabetic; inhibitor of the DPP-4 enzyme
-glitazonepioglitazone; rosiglitazone; troglitazoneantidiabetic; thiazolidinedione
-iraminebrompheniramine; chlorpheniramine; pheniramineantihistamine
-lamideacetazolamide; brinzolamide; dorzolamide; methazolamidecarbonic anhydrase inhibitor
-mabadalimumab; daclizumab; infliximab; omalizumab; trastuzumabmonoclonal antibody
-mustinecarmustine; estramustine; lomustine; bendamustinealkylating agent (antineoplastic)
-mycinazithromycin; clarithromycin; clindamycin; erythromycinantibiotic; antibacterial
-nacindarifenacin; solifenacinmuscarinic antagonist (anticholinergic)
-nazolefluconazole; ketoconazole; miconazole; terconazole; tioconazoleantifungal
-ololatenolol; metoprolol; nadolol; pindolol; propranolol; timololbeta blocker
-olonefluocinolone; fluorometholone; prednisolone; triamcinolonecorticosteroid
-olonenandrolone; oxandrolone; oxymetholoneanabolic steroid
-onidebudesonide; ciclesonide; desonide; fluocinonide; halcinonidecorticosteroid
-oprazoledexlansoprazole; lansoprazole; pantoprazoleproton pump inhibitor (PPI)
parin; -parindalteparin; enoxaparin; fondaparinux; heparin; tinzaparinantithrombotic; anticoagulant (blood thinner)
-phyllineaminophylline; dyphylline; oxtriphylline; theophyllinexanthine derivative (bronchodilator)
-pramineclomipramine; desipramine; imipramine; trimipraminetricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
pred; pred-loteprednol; prednicarbate; prednisolone; prednisonecorticosteroid
-prilbenazepril; captopril; enalapril; lisinopril; moexipril; ramiprilACE inhibitor
-profenfenoprofen; flurbiprofen; ibuprofen; ketoprofenNSAID
-ridoneiloperidone; paliperidone; risperidoneatypical antipsychotic
-sartancandesartan; irbesartan; losartan; olmesartan; valsartanangiotensin II receptor antagonist; ARB
-semidefurosemide; torsemideloop diuretic (water pill)
-setronalosetron; dolasetron; granisetron; ondansetron; palonosetronserotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist
-setrondolasetron; granisetron; ondansetron; palonosetronantiemetic and antinauseant
-statinatorvastatin; lovastatin; pitavastatin; pravastatin; rosuvastatin; simvastatinHMG-CoA reductase inhibitor; statins
sulfa-sulfacetamide; sulfadiazine; sulfamethoxazole; sulfasalazineantibiotic; anti-infective; anti-inflammatory
-tadinecyproheptadine; desloratadine; loratadine; olopatadineantihistamine
-tadineamantadine; rimantadineantiviral; anti-influenza-A
-terolalbuterol; arformoterol; formoterol; levalbuterol; salmeterolbeta agonist; bronchodilator
-thiazidechlorothiazide; hydrochlorothiazide; methyclothiazidethiazide diuretic (water pill)
-tinibcrizotinib; dasatinib; erlotinib; gefitinib; imatinibantineoplastic (kinase inhibitor)
-treldesogestrel; etonogestrel; levonorgestrel; norgestrelfemale hormone (progestin)
tretin-; tretin; -tretinacitretin; alitretinoin; isotretinoin; tretinoinretinoid; dermatologic agent; form of vitamin A
-triptanalmotriptan; eletriptan; rizatriptan; sumatriptan; zolmitriptanantimigraine; selective 5-HT receptor agonist
-tylineamitriptyline; nortriptyline; protriptylinetricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
vir; -virabacavir; efavirenz; enfuvirtide; nevirapine; ritonavir; tenofovirantiviral; anti-HIV
vir; -viradefovir; entecavir; ribavirin (along with interferon)antiviral; anti-hepatitis
-viracyclovir; famciclovir; penciclovir; valacyclovirantiviral; anti-herpes
-vircidofovir; ganciclovir; valganciclovirantiviral; anti-CMV
-viroseltamivir; zanamivirantiviral; anti-flu
-vudinelamivudine; stavudine; telbivudine; zidovudineantiviral; nucleoside analogues
-zepamclonazepam; diazepam; flurazepam; lorazepam; temazepambenzodiazepine
-zodonenefazodone, trazodone, vilazodoneantidepressant
-zolamalprazolam; estazolam; midazolam; triazolambenzodiazepine
-zosinalfuzosin; doxazosin; prazosin; terazosinalpha blocker