This article is an historical investigation of the term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and its acronym NSAIDs. Drug names and categories tend to be taken at face value in everyday practice, as natural categories existing in their own right. The main argument of this article is that the term NSAID is a reminder that drug names and categories are complex cultural and social products that have been created by specific people, for specific purposes, through specific historical processes, and that this is relevant for their use today. The article locates the first appearances of the phrase non-steroidal at the entry to the 1960s, when the iatrogenic tragedies that followed from the introduction of corticosteroids had become apparent, and where a clear separation between these drugs and emerging anti-inflammatory alternatives was needed. The article then shows how both the phrase and the acronym appeared for the first time out of specific textual contexts in publications by Michael W. Whitehouse, before they were taken up by a wider community and transformed into concepts independent on the context of their first appearances.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10787-014-0211-2