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How to capitalize medication names

Cite this
Greenbaum, H. (2022, June 15). How to capitalize medication names. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/brand-names-medications

APA Style Blog post: How to capitalize medication names

While writing reports as a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow, I often questioned whether I should capitalize medications. It helped to remind myself that the brand name developed by the pharmaceutical company is a proper noun, which should be capitalized, whereas the generic name referencing the ingredients in the medication is not. Brand names (e.g., Advil or Motrin) are developed by the company that produces and markets the medication, whereas the generic name (e.g., ibuprofen) refers to the active ingredient(s) used to make the medication. When you are writing about a brand name, use the brand name without a trademark (™), registered trademark (®), or copyright (©) symbol. When you are writing about a generic medication, be careful not to use its brand name.

To provide some examples, in the following table I outline the brand name and the generic name of anxiety medications that Hofmann et al. (2014) included in their meta-analysis examining pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders.

Brand name Generic name

Celexa

citalopram

Cymbalta

duloxetine

Effexor

venlafaxine

Lexapro

escitalopram

Paxil

paroxetine

Zoloft

sertraline

These and other capitalization guidelines can be found in the APA Style manuals. Guidelines about brand names are in Section 6.14 of the Publication Manual (7th ed.) and in Section 5.4 of the Concise Guide to APA Style (7th ed.). I hope this blog post will make it easier for you to remember the APA Style capitalization guidelines for medications.

Reference

Hofmann, S. G., Wu, J. Q., Boettcher, H., & Sturm, J. (2014). Effect of pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders on quality of life: A meta-analysis. Quality of Life Research, 23(4), 1141–1153. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-013-0573-8