Coumadin Versus Warfarin
To the Editor:
I hate to write a letter to the editor to comment on another letter to the editor, especially if the author of the latter is a respected colleague of mine. However, in this case, I must make an important point regarding conformity to accepted writing style.
Ferguson1 in his sobering letter on the Organization to Assess Strategies for Ischemic Syndromes (OASIS) pilot study used the words coumadin and warfarin interchangeably, without initially capitalizing the word Coumadin. Coumadin is the trademarked or brand name for the drug whose generic name is warfarin.
The Instructions to Authors of Circulation specify that generic rather than trademarked names be given. In addition, according to the American Medical Association Manual of Style,2 “Proprietary names (trademarks or brand names) use initial capitals… When both the nonproprietary (or generic) and proprietary (or brand) names are listed in the text, the nonproprietary names should be listed first, with the proprietary names capitalized and in parentheses.”
Incidentally, warfarin itself is a hybrid word incorporating an acronym of the patent holder, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, together with the suffix “-arin,” denoting a relation to coumarin.
- Copyright © 2000 by American Heart Association
Dr Cheng is absolutely correct in pointing out the distinction between the generic name warfarin and the trade name Coumadin. The original Organization to Assess Strategies for Ischemic Syndromes (OASIS) pilot study articleR1 correctly used the term warfarin throughout, but it did not specify the drug supplier. My letterR2 did not.
For readers interested in learning more about the history of drug development, including aspirin, heparin, warfarin, and thrombolytic agents, a review by Mueller and SchneidtR3 provides a wonderful overview. I promise to reread it.
Anand SS, Yusuf S, Pogue J, et al. Long-term oral anticoagulant therapy in patients with unstable angina or suspected non-Q-wave myocardial infarction: OASIS Pilot Study results. Circulation.. 1998;98:1064–1070.
Ferguson JJ. Long-term oral anticoagulant therapy in patients with unstable angina or suspected non-Q-wave myocardial infarction. Circulation. 1999;99:2968. Letter.
Mueller RL, Scheidt S. History of drugs for thrombotic disease: discovery, development, and directions for the future. Circulation. 1994;89:432–449.