1 2 aim

Describing medical terms in medicines use

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) published the EMA’s Medical Terms Simplifier, describing medical terms in medicines use. This online resource provides plain-language descriptions of medical terms that are used to name side effects of medicines, and mechanisms of action.

Simplifying terms of side effects

The EMA’s Medical Terms Simplifier is focusing on side effects and similar terms in summaries of product characteristics and public assessments of medicines. However, it omits terms that are used rarely. It does not include descriptions of most disease states, or those that relate to specialties such as regulation, statistics and complementary medicine. Next to this, it is not taking into account broader fields of medicine like anatomy, microbiology, pathology and physiology.

Click here to access the EMA’s Medical Terms Simplifier (pdf)

Official documents of the EMA often use wordings to fit the context, making sure the writing flows smoothly without distorting the meaning. Since the purpose of these descriptions is to serve the EMA’s own writing needs, some can include alternative or optimal wordings. For this, the ‘<>’ is used.

Preparing public-friendly communications

The Medical Terms Simplifier has been created over many years by EMA’s medical writers, who use these descriptions to prepare public-friendly communications. Having become increasingly aware that there was no single resource for describing common medical terms found in medicines information, the team worked to produce a public-domain version of this resource.

A glossary of regulatory terms is also available by clicking here.

This resource is continually reviewed and updated, and the EMA will publish updates periodically. If there are comments or suggestions, people may contact the EMA by filling in this form.