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The use of a different reference drug calls for a detailed scientific justification, as well as additional documents and data.

Would the word usage look okay in the place of this use?

The usage of a different reference drug calls for a detailed scientific justification, as well as additional documents and data.

Judging by this discussion on ELU SE, use might be more appropriate, but an English enthusiast friend told me that he thinks usage might be okay too.

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"Usage" might be ok, but it sounds clunky in that sentence. The ELU article is pretty clear that "usage" describes a set of how something might be used. In this context it's one use of one drug (as a reference) so I don't see how it's justified.

Anyway, I'm always a fan of clear, concise writing, so "use" (or a different, more targeted verb like "introduction") is far better.

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