Pharma Naming & Marketing Quiz 2015
Another big year for the biopharma industry is behind us, and what took place––in its marketing, advertising, mergers & acquisitions, regulation, and drug naming––was packed with hope, rage, creativity, ego, and big bucks.
Quiz yourself on some of the year’s big stories––answers follow.
1. What was the number of new drug approvals by FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in 2015?
Sanofi SA inked a deal in 2015 to focus on diabetes treatment with what Silicon Valley Company?
Pfizer initiated an epic $160 billion (USD) take over of Allergan. What other company did Pfizer acquire last year? (Hint: its Allergan alum CEO ka-chinged a $91 million golden parachute.)
Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, led by the unapologetic Martin Shkreli, boosted the price of its anti-parasite drug to $750 per pill from $13.50 (USD), stoking the debate on drug pricing. What is the brand name of this innocent drug?
Speaking of Martin Shkreli, he also led an investor group to acquire a majority stake in what South San Francisco biopharma company which later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after he was arrested on fraud charges stemming from a hedge fund he ran?
What is the brand name of the first biosimilar approved in the U.S.A.––launched by Sandoz, the generic branch of Novartis––a copycat version of Amgen’s Neupogen® (filgrastim)?
What is the name for a new, exciting clinical trial program with the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage®) aimed at preventing or delaying many diseases related to aging? (Hint: /M/ stands for metformin).
Praluent® (alirocumab), developed by Regeneron and Sanofi, was the first of a new class of powerful cholesterol-lowering medicines––called PCSK9 inhibitors––approved in the U.S. in July. One month later, what Amgen PCSK9 inhibitor also paved a path to the green light?
What is the new, rebranded corporate identity for Isis Pharmaceuticals, who relented on their company name after the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks by ISIS?
Omnis Pharma Inc.
Pharma spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising in the U.S. was reported to have vaulted to $4.53 billion, an 18% hike over the year before in the most recently reported period (2014), with Pfizer nabbing bragging rights as top spender ($1.4 billion). What brand received the most advertising dollars during that period?
Q1–3. 45. 45 drug approvals were recorded in 2015 according to CDER, besting the 41 approvals in 2014, and reaching a record high number of approvals in 19 years. European approvals were up too. And according to IMS Health, there may be as many as 225 new drug approvals worldwide by 2020.
Q2–3. Google. Technology partnerships are all the rage, and pharma is no wallflower. Sanofi is a leader in diabetes meds––– a perfect match for the Google’s Life Sciences division working on small, connected medical devices to collect diabetes-related data. Google also partners with Novartis and Biogen. Watch Pharma partnerships with tech grow in 2016.
Q3–2. Hospira. The Hospira CEO who had a big payday: Michael Ball. Valeant is often mentioned in M&As because its model requires rapid acquisitions, but the company is facing major challenges now; Shire, an Irish company, is in pursuit to buy Baxalta; while Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between Samsung Biologics and Biogen, has several biosimilars in development.
Q4–3. Daraprim. Daraprim (pyrimethamine) is an old drug whose U.S. trademark dates back to 1951. The other three U.S. pharmaceutical brands cited use the same /prim/ letter string: Zyloprim, Aloprim, and Primaxin. /Prim/ is also a USAN (for United States Adopted Name) stem for antibacterials (trimethoprim type). As for drug pricing, it will continue to be a hotly debated, "rage-inducing" topic in 2016.
Q5–4. KaloBios Pharmaceuticals. Retrophin Inc. is a company Shkreli founded in 2011. (The name is a portmanteau of “recombinant dystrophin.”) BioScrip, Inc. and Kalos Therapeutics are company names that share similarities to the KaloBios name.
Q6–1. Zarxio. The other three names are also biosimilars: Benepali from Samsung Bioepis (the JV between Samsung Biologics and Biogen) is the first biosimilar of Enbrel® to receive a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for marketing authorization; Omnitrope was among the first biosimilars approved in the EU in 2006; and Zarzio is the nearly identical name for Zarxio outside the U.S.
Q7–2. TAME. The clinical trial name, TAME, is actually a semi-acronym for “Targeting/Taming Aging With MEtformin.” Many sponsor companies and organizations name, or “brand,” their clinical trials with catchy names in order to increase awareness, to differentiate them from other clinical trials, and to better recruit patients.
Q8–4. Repatha. The three other drug names listed also contain the word “path”: Pathilon, Pathocil, and Campath. But only Repatha blocks the protein PCSK9, thus creating a “new path” (or “re-path”) for the body to clear "bad" cholesterol from the blood. (Stay tuned for more on Repatha in another post.)
Q9–4. Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Isis Pharmaceuticals helped signal the hope and healing imagery of an Egyptian goddess––too bad it’s gone. Ions Pharma and Omnis Pharmaceuticals are also corporate identities; Iona Pharmaceuticals is a fictitious name.
Q10–4. Cialis. Nielsen data backs up Cialis as most advertised. The other drug names read like a highlight reel of most well-known pharma brands (with support nearly dating back to their original U.S. trademark filings: Viagra–1996; Enbrel–1996; Celebrex–1998; Cialis–1999). More DTC advertising is fortifying Pharma brand equity as patent expiry and biosimilars loom on the horizon in 2016 and beyond.
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