Whilst giving a presentation at grand rounds recently, I noted that approved names for biological medications in Australia are suffixed with a three-letter abbreviation – the “biotechnology descriptor” – to indicate the biotechnology production system used, e.g. insulin lispro (rbe).
The most common biotechnology descriptors are:
- ghu – gene-activated human cell line
- rbe – recombinant bacteria Escherichia coli
- rch – recombinant Chinese Hamster ovary cell line
- rmc – recombinant mouse cell line
- rys – recombinant yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Incidentally, I cringe whenever someone refers to this group of medications as “biologics” – an Americanism that has crept into the Australian medical lexicon. Australian English still retains the “-ical” ending (rather than shortening to “-ic” in American English), therefore we should continue to refer to these medications as “biologicals”.