Drug Suffixes

Welcome to this video on drug suffixes! Remembering thousands of drug names and what they do is an enormous task, so I’m hoping this video will help you in your study of pharmacology.

First, we’ll take a look at some blood pressure medications.

ACE Inhibitor Suffixes

ACE inhibitors end in -pril, such as captopril and lisinopril. ACE inhibitors reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, thus reducing the heart’s workload. Beta-blockers end in -lol, such as atenolol, propranolol, and labetalol.

Beta-Blocker Suffixes

Beta-blockers reduce blood pressure by slowing the heart rate and reducing myocardial contractility. They are given for hypertension, CHF, and chronic heart failure.

Calcium Channel Blocker Suffixes

Drugs ending in -dipine are calcium channel blockers, such as amlodipine and nifedipine. Calcium channel blockers relax blood vessels, therefore increasing blood supply and oxygen to the heart, reducing the heart’s workload and lowering blood pressure.

ARB Suffixes

Angiotensin-II receptor antagonists/blockers (ARBs) end in -sartan, such as losartan and valsartan. ARBs inhibit blood vessel constriction, helping blood vessels relax, which lowers blood pressure.

Diuretic Suffixes

Diuretics are often used in conjunction with blood pressure medication.

Potassium-Sparing Diuretics

Drugs ending and -actone are potassium-sparing diuretics, such as spironolactone (also known as aldactone). These diuretics increase the fluid passed out by the kidneys while retaining potassium in the body (considered a weak diuretic).

Thiazide Diuretics

Thiazide diuretics end in -thiozide and are used mainly for treating high blood pressure and edema, but potassium is lost in the process. Hydrochlorothiazide, or HCTZ, is commonly used.

Hypotension Drug Suffixes

Let’s look at another group of drugs that cause hypotension, or low blood pressure, as a side effect but with other intended purposes. Drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction end in -afil and include sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis). These medications cause direct coronary vasodilation, and special precautions should be taken in men with cardiovascular disease.

Let’s go over a few more cardiovascular drugs.

Statin Suffixes

Statins/antilipidemic drugs end with, you guessed it, -statin, including atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor). These are anti-cholesterol drugs that reduce LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

Thrombnolytic Drug Suffixes

Thrombolytic drugs end with -ace, such as streptokinase or alteplase, which is also known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). These are clot-buster drugs given to break down unwanted blood clots causing heart attacks and strokes. The sooner treatment is given, the quicker blood flow is restored to the area.

Anticoagulant Suffixes

If the medication ends with -arin, it’s most likely an anticoagulant, such as heparin or warfarin. Anticoagulants prevent blood coagulation or prolong the clotting time.

Antibiotic Suffixes

Now, let’s take a look at some antibiotics.

There are tetracyclines, which have an easy ending -cycline, such as tetracycline or doxycycline. These broadspectrum anti-microbial drugs are used in treating and preventing bacterial infections. Aminoglycosides are another antibiotic ending with -mycin, such as neomycin and tobramycin. Fluoroquinolones are a broadspectrum antibiotic ending with -floxacin, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin.

Antiviral Drug Suffixes

While antibiotics treat bacterial infections, antivirals treat a virus infection. If the ending is -vir, it’s most likely an antiviral, such as acyclovir. Let’s turn our focus to some drugs that treat intestinal issues.

Antiemetic Drug Suffixes

Drugs ending and -azine, such as promethazine, are an antiemetic used to treat nausea and vomiting.

Anti-ulcer Drug Suffixes

Proton pump inhibitors end with -prazole, such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec). These are anti-ulcer drugs that reduce gastric acid production.

Another anti-ulcer drug is the H2 receptor antagonists, or H2 blockers, which block the action of histamine in the stomach, decreasing the production of stomach acid. These drugs usually end in -tidine, such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and ranitidine (Zantac).

Common Respiratory Drug Suffixes

We’ve included a couple of common respiratory drugs.


Bronchodilators dilate the bronchi and bronchioles, decreasing resistance in the airway and increasing airflow to the lungs. These medications are given for asthma and COPD and include drugs ending in -terol and -phylline, such as albuterol, levalbuterol, theophylline, and aminophylline.


Antihistamines are given to treat allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, itching, or hives, and include drugs ending in -ine, such as diphenhydramine, loratadine, and brompheniramine.

Depression and Anti-anxiety Drug Suffixes

Medications used to treat depression and anxiety include the following:

Drugs ending in -pam or -lam are most likely a benzodiazepine, which are used to treat anxiety, and prolonged use may lead to physical dependence. Benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

Several tricyclic antidepressants end in -triptyline, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline. These drugs are used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OC, and other mood disorders.

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors) block or delay the reabsorption of serotonin and are used to treat major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. You’ll find that they end in -pram or -ine, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro).

As I near the end of the list, there are a few that didn’t fall into the earlier categories.

Local Antesthetic Drug Suffixes

Drugs ending in -caine are local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and xylocaine.

Local anesthetics prevent the transmission of nerve impulses or pain without causing unconsciousness.

Corticosteroid Suffixes

Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs used to control many different symptoms, but not a cure for the underlying disease process. Most corticosteroids end in -sone or -lone, including dexamethasone, prednisone, methylprednisolone, and triamcinolone.

Oral hypoglycemic agents lower blood sugar for the diabetic patient and include drugs ending in -ide, such as glyburide and glipizide.

Thank you for watching this video on drug suffixes!


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 1, 2021