Meet the Two Women Who Give Prescription Drugs Their Generic Names

bong hyunjung/iStock via Getty Images
bong hyunjung/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to be a marketing professional or pharmacist to understand why certain drug brands chose their names. “DiaBeta” sounds like it would help those with diabetes (it does), and “Lopressor” must have something to do with low pressure (it lowers your blood pressure). But the reasons for drugs’ generic names—glyburide and metoprolol for the aforementioned, respectively—aren’t so obvious.

Maybe you assumed that the generic names are chosen through a highly scientific process, or at least devised by the scientists who first manufactured each drug. In reality, the generic names are invented by the two women who compose the United States Adopted Names program (USAN), reports David Lazarus for the Los Angeles Times.

Director Stephanie Shubat and her colleague Gail Karet operate out of Chicago, where they dream up names for about 200 drug applications each year. The five-person USAN council, which only meets biannually and mainly communicates by email, then votes on their ideas.

There is some structure to the naming process. Shubat and Karet come up with uniform “stems” that they use for groups of similar drugs, much like similar English words have prefixes, suffixes, or root words from Latin. Many are intuitive, like estrogen-related drugs containing “estr-” or derivatives of the steroid prednisone containing “pred-” [PDF].

Sometimes drug manufacturers will submit their own suggestions for the generic names, which is where it gets a little tricky, because USAN doesn’t want the generic name to sound too similar to the name-brand drug. If it does, it can cause problems when the patent expires and other generic drug manufacturers try to compete with the name-brand company. For example, the generic name for the arthritis drug Celebrex is celecoxib. Since they contain many of the same letters, consumers might end up continuing to search for “Celebrex” even after cheaper alternatives have hit the market. That name was devised in the 1990s—Shubat said they never would have approved the name today.

In the last 50 years, USAN and international naming associations have masterminded around 11,000 generic drug names. As you can imagine, it’s getting more difficult to come up with new ones—especially considering that Shubat and Karet steer clear of the letters W, K, H, J, and Y, which can be complicated for non-English speakers to pronounce. They also do their best to prevent drug names that could be offensive or distasteful in another language.

For inspiration, Shubat doesn’t always stick to science or etymology. “Sometimes I look at license plates,” she said. “Sometimes I borrow from the names of cats or dogs.”

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

13 Father's Day Gifts for Geeky Dads

Amazon/Otterbox/Toynk
Amazon/Otterbox/Toynk

When in doubt, you play the hits. Watches, flasks, and ties are all tried-and-true Father’s Day gifts—useful items bought en masse every June as the paternal holiday draws near. Here’s a list of goodies that put a geeky spin on those can’t-fail gifts. We’re talking Zelda flasks, wizard-shaped party mugs, and a timepiece inspired by BBC’s greatest sci-fi series, Doctor Who. Light the “dad” signal ‘cause it’s about to get nerdy!

1. Lord of the Rings Geeki Tikis (Set of Three); $76

'Lord of The Rings' themed tiki cups.
Toynk

If your dad’s equally crazy about outdoor shindigs and Tolkien’s Middle-earth, help him throw his own Lothlórien luau with these Tiki-style ceramic mugs shaped like icons from the Lord of the Rings saga. Gollum and Frodo’s drinkware doppelgängers each hold 14 ounces of liquid, while Gandalf the Grey’s holds 18—but a wizard never brags, right? Star Wars editions are also available.

Buy it: Toynk

2. Space Invaders Cufflinks; $9

'Space Invaders' cufflinks on Amazon
Fifty 50/Amazon

Arcade games come and arcade games go, but Space Invaders has withstood the test of time. Now Pops can bring those pixelated aliens to the boardroom—and look darn stylish doing it.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Legend of Zelda Flask; $18

A 'Legend of Zelda' flask
Toynk

Saving princesses is thirsty work. Shaped like an NES cartridge, this Zelda-themed flask boasts an 8-ounce holding capacity and comes with a reusable straw. Plus, it makes a fun little display item for gamer dads with man caves.

Buy it: Toynk

4. AT-AT Family Vacation Bag Tag; $12

An At-At baggage tag
ShopDisney

Widely considered one of the greatest movie sequels ever made, The Empire Strikes Back throws a powerful new threat at Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion: the AT-AT a.k.a. Imperial Walkers. Now your dad can mark his luggage with a personalized tag bearing the war machine’s likeness.

Buy it: ShopDisney

5. Flash Skinny Tie; $17

A skinny Flash-themed tie
Uyoung/Amazon

We’ll let you know if the Justice League starts selling new memberships, but here’s the next best thing. Available in a rainbow of super-heroic colors, this skinny necktie bears the Flash’s lightning bolt logo. Race on over to Amazon and pick one up today.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Captain America Shield Apron; $20

A Captain America themed apron
Toynk

Why let DC fans have all the fun? Daddy-o can channel his inner Steve Rogers when he flips burgers at your family’s Fourth of July BBQ. Measuring 31.5 inches long by 27.5 inches wide, this apron’s guaranteed to keep the cookout Hydra-free.

Buy it: Toynk

7. Doctor Who Vortex Manipulator LCD Leather Wristwatch; $35

A Doctor Who-themed watch
Toynk

At once classy and geeky, this digital timepiece lovingly recreates one of Doctor Who’s signature props. Unlike some of the gadgets worn on the long-running sci-fi series, it won’t require any fancy chronoplasm fuel.

Buy it: Toynk

8. Wonder Woman 3-Piece Grill Set; $21

Wonder Woman three-piece gill set
Toynk

At one point in her decades-long comic book career, this Amazon Princess found herself working at a fast food restaurant called Taco Whiz. Now grill cooks can pay tribute to the heroine with these high-quality, stainless steel utensils. The set’s comprised of wide-tipped tongs, a BBQ fork, and a spatula, with the latter boasting Wonder Woman’s insignia.

Buy it: Toynk

9. Harry Potter Toon Tumbler; $10

Glassware that's Harry Potter themed
Entertainment Earth

You can never have too many pint glasses—and this Father’s Day, dad can knock one back for the boy who lived. This piece of Potter glassware from PopFun has whimsy to spare. Now who’s up for some butterbeer?

Buy it: EntertainmentEarth

10. House Stark Men’s Wallet; $16

A Game of Thrones themed watch
Toynk

Winter’s no longer coming, but the Stark family's propensity for bold fashion choices can never die. Manufactured with both inside and outside pockets, this direwolf-inspired wallet is the perfect place to store your cards, cash, and ID.

Buy it: Toynk

11. Mr. Incredible “Incredible Dad” Mug, $15

An Incredibles themed mug
ShopDisney

Cue the brass music. Grabbing some coffee with a Pixar superhero sounds like an awesome—or dare we say, incredible?—way for your dad to start his day. Mom can join in the fun, too: Disney also sells a Mrs. Incredible version of the mug.

Buy it: ShopDisney

12. Star Wars phone cases from Otterbox; $46-$56

Star Wars phone cases from OtterBox.
Otterbox

If your dad’s looking for a phone case to show off his love of all things Star Wars, head to Otterbox. Whether he’s into the Dark Side with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, the droids, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett, you’ll be able to find a phone case to fit his preference. The designs are available for both Samsung and Apple products, and you can check them all out here.

Buy it: Otterbox

13. 3D Puzzles; $50

3D Harry Potter puzzle from Amazon.
Wrebbit 3D

Help dad recreate some of his favorite fictional locations with these 3D puzzles from Wrebbit 3D. The real standouts are the 850-piece model of Hogwarts's Great Hall and the 910-piece version of Winterfell from Game of Thrones. If dad's tastes are more in line with public broadcasting, you could also pick him up an 890-piece Downton Abbey puzzle to bring a little upper-crust elegance to the homestead.

Buy it: Hogwarts (Amazon), Winterfell (Amazon), Downton Abbey (Amazon)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

This Is Not a Drill: Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile Is Hiring New Drivers for 2020

Tim Boyle, Getty Images
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has had many navigators over its 84-year history, including performers and a race car driver. Now, the Oscar Mayer company is looking for a new generation of 'hotdoggers' to get behind the wheel of the iconic ride.

Food & Wine reports that applications are being accepted for the one-year position now through January 31. Hotdoggers tasked with commandeering the Wienermobile will be responsible for doing media interviews and appearing at grocery store and charity events across the country. The position is primarily a PR job, and candidates with a BA or BS in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing are preferred.

Carl Mayer, Oscar Mayer's nephew, introduced the first Wienermobile in 1936, and today there are six vehicles on the road making up to 1400 stops a year. After disappearing for a couple decades, the Wienermobile was revived in 1986 for its 50th anniversary. Oscar Mayer hires 12 new hotdoggers each year and usually receives more than 1000 applications.

The job comes with benefits and a competitive salary in addition to the impressive title. The new hires must be ready to hit the road in June of this year; for a shot at becoming Oscar Mayer's next Wienermobile driver, apply by the end of the month here.

[h/t Food & Wine]