One of the toughest parts of preparing for the NCLEX is pharmacology. Learning a large number of generic drug names and what they all do is a challenge for sure!

The NCSBN has removed all brand and trade names from the NCLEX exam citing “the generic name is more consistent while a brand/trade medication name may vary.” Cool, right? But still, the number of generics that have the potential to appear on the test is simply mind-blowing.

Fortunately, generic names tend to follow patterns, with prefixes and suffixes often determining the class of medication. The following table gives a list of the prefix, root, and suffix for some common medications. We have included drug actions and the body system involved, where applicable.

Psst! You can find the following chart by clicking the “Resources” tab in the paid version of NCLEX Mastery!! 

These drug prefixes, roots, and suffixes apply only to generic names.

prefix, root, suffix examples (generic names) drug class or drug category
-afil avanafil; sildenafil; tadalafil; vardenafil phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor
-asone betamethasone; dexamethasone; diflorasone; fluticasone; mometasone corticosteroid
-bicin doxorubicin; epirubicin; idarubicin; valrubicin antineoplastic; cytotoxic agent
-bital butabarbital; butalbital; phenobarbital; secobarbital barbiturate (sedative)
-caine bupivacaine; lidocaine; mepivacaine; prilocaine; proparacaine local anesthetic
cef-, ceph- cefaclor; cefdinir; cefixime; cefprozil; cephalexin cephalosporin antibiotic
-cillin amoxicillin; ampicillin; dicloxacillin; nafcillin; oxacillin penicillin antibiotic
cort clocortolone; fludrocortisone; hydrocortisone corticosteroid
-cycline demeclocycline; doxycycline; minocycline; tetracycline tetracycline antibiotic
-dazole albendazole; mebendazole; metronidazole; tinidazole anthelmintic; antibiotic; antibacterial
-dipine amlodipine; felodipine; nifedipine; nimodipine; nisoldipine calcium channel blocker
-dronate alendronate; etidronate; ibandronate; risedronate bisphosphonate; bone resorption inhibitor
-eprazole esomeprazole; omeprazole; rabeprazole proton pump inhibitor (PPI)
-fenac bromfenac; diclofenac; nepafenac NSAID
-floxacin besifloxacin; ciprofloxacin; levofloxacin; moxifloxacin; ofloxacin quinolone antibiotic
-gliptin saxagliptin; sitagliptin; linagliptin antidiabetic; inhibitor of the DPP-4 enzyme
-glitazone pioglitazone; rosiglitazone; troglitazone antidiabetic; thiazolidinedione
-iramine brompheniramine; chlorpheniramine; pheniramine antihistamine
-lamide acetazolamide; brinzolamide; dorzolamide; methazolamide carbonic anhydrase inhibitor
-mab adalimumab; daclizumab; infliximab; omalizumab; trastuzumab monoclonal antibody
-mustine carmustine; estramustine; lomustine; bendamustine alkylating agent (antineoplastic)
-mycin azithromycin; clarithromycin; clindamycin; erythromycin antibiotic; antibacterial
-nacin darifenacin; solifenacin muscarinic antagonist (anticholinergic)
-nazole fluconazole; ketoconazole; miconazole; terconazole; tioconazole antifungal
-olol atenolol; metoprolol; nadolol; pindolol; propranolol; timolol beta blocker
-olone fluocinolone; fluorometholone; prednisolone; triamcinolone corticosteroid
-olone nandrolone; oxandrolone; oxymetholone anabolic steroid
-onide budesonide; ciclesonide; desonide; fluocinonide; halcinonide corticosteroid
-oprazole dexlansoprazole; lansoprazole; pantoprazole proton pump inhibitor (PPI)
parin; -parin dalteparin; enoxaparin; fondaparinux; heparin; tinzaparin antithrombotic; anticoagulant (blood thinner)
-phylline aminophylline; dyphylline; oxtriphylline; theophylline xanthine derivative (bronchodilator)
-pramine clomipramine; desipramine; imipramine; trimipramine tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
pred; pred- loteprednol; prednicarbate; prednisolone; prednisone corticosteroid
-pril benazepril; captopril; enalapril; lisinopril; moexipril; ramipril ACE inhibitor
-profen fenoprofen; flurbiprofen; ibuprofen; ketoprofen NSAID
-ridone iloperidone; paliperidone; risperidone atypical antipsychotic
-sartan candesartan; irbesartan; losartan; olmesartan; valsartan angiotensin II receptor antagonist; ARB
-semide furosemide; torsemide loop diuretic (water pill)
-setron alosetron; dolasetron; granisetron; ondansetron; palonosetron serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist
-setron dolasetron; granisetron; ondansetron; palonosetron antiemetic and antinauseant
-statin atorvastatin; lovastatin; pitavastatin; pravastatin; rosuvastatin; simvastatin HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor; statins
sulfa- sulfacetamide; sulfadiazine; sulfamethoxazole; sulfasalazine antibiotic; anti-infective; anti-inflammatory
-tadine cyproheptadine; desloratadine; loratadine; olopatadine antihistamine
-tadine amantadine; rimantadine antiviral; anti-influenza-A
-terol albuterol; arformoterol; formoterol; levalbuterol; salmeterol beta agonist; bronchodilator
-thiazide chlorothiazide; hydrochlorothiazide; methyclothiazide thiazide diuretic (water pill)
-tinib crizotinib; dasatinib; erlotinib; gefitinib; imatinib antineoplastic (kinase inhibitor)
-trel desogestrel; etonogestrel; levonorgestrel; norgestrel female hormone (progestin)
tretin-; tretin; -tretin acitretin; alitretinoin; isotretinoin; tretinoin retinoid; dermatologic agent; form of vitamin A
-triptan almotriptan; eletriptan; rizatriptan; sumatriptan; zolmitriptan antimigraine; selective 5-HT receptor agonist
-tyline amitriptyline; nortriptyline; protriptyline tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
vir; -vir abacavir; efavirenz; enfuvirtide; nevirapine; ritonavir; tenofovir antiviral; anti-HIV
vir; -vir adefovir; entecavir; ribavirin (along with interferon) antiviral; anti-hepatitis
-vir acyclovir; famciclovir; penciclovir; valacyclovir antiviral; anti-herpes
-vir cidofovir; ganciclovir; valganciclovir antiviral; anti-CMV
-vir oseltamivir; zanamivir antiviral; anti-flu
-vudine lamivudine; stavudine; telbivudine; zidovudine antiviral; nucleoside analogues
-zepam clonazepam; diazepam; flurazepam; lorazepam; temazepam benzodiazepine
-zodone nefazodone, trazodone, vilazodone antidepressant
-zolam alprazolam; estazolam; midazolam; triazolam benzodiazepine
-zosin aFDAlfuzosin; doxazosin; prazosin; terazosin alpha blocker

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Posted by Cindi Bell, RN

Registered Nurse and Subject Matter Expert for educational content created for nurses, specialized in emergency nursing, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and HIV Counselor, Graduate Degree in Health Informatics and Management, with certifications in Guided Care Nursing from John's Hopkins, ACLS and PALS, trauma nursing, Neonatal Resuscitation and Pediatric Emergency Nursing, currently focused on Population Health, dabbled in Public Health, School Nursing, and Urology, Love all things created with passion and innovation!

5 Comments

  1. Taking pharmacology right now and I was literally having a melt down. Then God send you. Thank you so much for posting this. Big help will share with my classmates.

    Reply

    1. Catherine MSN RN June 5, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you!!!!! Glad we could help 🙂

      Reply

  2. I’m taking LPN class now and the whole class is in a lot of trouble with pharmacology that’s including myself. Final is coming up in January. Please help. Any recommendations?
    Thank you.

    Reply

    1. Catherine MSN RN December 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      What other resources would you all like to see?

      Reply

  3. How to remember the medications name , what they for , and side effects.

    Reply

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