We all may have difficulties in remembering the drug names and wonder why many drug names are so awkward and difficult to read. For drug makers, finding a name is more art than science. For a new drug, the proprietary name or brand name needs to reflect certain features.
“Want to sound high-tech? Go for lots of Z's and X's, such as Xanax, Xalatan, Zyban and Zostrix.
Want to sound poetic? Try Lyrica, Truvada and Femara.
Want to suggest what it does? Flonase is an allergy medicine that aims to stop nasal flow. Lunesta, a sleeping drug, implies "luna," the Latin word for moon — a full night's sleep.
Then there's Viagra, the erectile-dysfunction drug made by Pfizer. It uses the prefix "vi" to suggest vigor and vitality. The word rhymes with
Niagara, suggesting a mighty flow.”
On the other hand, the proprietary name for a new drug is closely regulated to avoid the similar names that may cause the medical errors. For example, in an article "This Is How Easy It Is to Pick Up the Wrong Prescription Drug", the similar drug names increases the chances for making mistakes in prescribing and in pharmacy. In US, FDA needs to approve the proprietary names of prescription drugs.
“New prescription drugs approved by FDA have both a scientific name, known as the generic (also called the established name), and a name given by the manufacturer, known as the proprietary name (also called the brand name or trade name). Before a drug is approved by FDA, the Agency will carefully review the proposed proprietary name.
It is important for safety reasons that the written proprietary name not look like that of another proprietary name nor sound like another proprietary name when spoken. If there is similarity between the proprietary name of a new prescription drug and the proprietary name of an existing drug, a mix-up could occur in ordering and a patient could receive one drug instead of the other. FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis is responsible for proprietary name review prior to approval in the Center for Drug Evaluations and Research. If a company submits a name that is too similar to another name, FDA will require the company to select another name, for safety reasons, as part of the approval process. “
See the following links for more discussion:
- Drug name confusion: FDA regulations and pharma create bizarre new names
- How FDA review Proposed Drug Names?
- FDA guidance: Contents of a Complete Submission for the Evaluation of Proprietary Names
- PhRMA demands an overhaul of FDA's regs on drug names
Recently, the United Therapeutics is very creative in naming their new drug. They simply used their CEO’s name (backward) for their new drug in treating the pulmonary hypertension. The new drug name Orenitram is Martine Ro. backward. And that would be the name of Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics’ founder/CEO and one of the most captivating people in the biotechnology industry.
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- CEO of drug company in RTP names new drug after herself