Nomenclature

Natural product structures are usually quite complex, some exceedingly so, and fully systematic nomenclature becomes impracticable. Names are thus typically based on so-called trivial nomenclature, in which the discoverer of the natural product exerts his or her right to name the compound. The organism in which the compound is found is frequently chosen to supply the root name, e.g. podophyllotoxin and peltatins from Podophyllum peltatum. Name suffixes might be -in to indicate 'a constituent of', -oside to show the compound is a sugar derivative, -genin for the aglycone released by hydrolysis of the sugar derivative, -toxin for a poisonous constituent, or may reflect chemical functionality, such as -one or -ol. Traditionally -ine is always used for alkaloids (amines). Structurally related compounds are then named as derivatives of the original, using standard prefixes, such as hydroxy-, methoxy-, methyl-, dihydro-, homo-, etc for added substituents, or deoxy-, demethyl-, demethoxy-, dehydro-, nor-, etc for removed sub-stituents, positioning being indicated from systematic numbering of the carbon chains or rings. Some groups of compounds, such as steroids, fatty acids, and prostaglandins, are named semi-systematically from an accepted root name. In this book, almost all structures depicted in the figures carry a name; this is primarily to help identification and, for the student, structural features are more pertinent than the names used. It will soon become apparent that drug names chosen by pharmaceutical manufacturers are quite random, and have no particular relationship to the chemical structure.

We are also currently experiencing a transitional period during which many established drug names are being changed to recommended international non-proprietary names (rINN); both names are included here, the rINN preceding the older name.

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