Drug Naming Goes Hollywood
The 2017 Academy Awards
of Drug Naming
It’s that glamorous time of the year again.
The awards season is here: the Globes, the Grammys, the Emmys, and the granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards.
So, why not the Drug Naming Awards? Hollywood has the Oscars, and Drug Naming has––ahem––the Monikers. With a nod to the Oscars, the Monikers are awards honoring all the different kinds of drug names approved over the past year. The nominees are limited to CDER’s (FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research) 2016 list of new molecular entities only. The twenty-two (tongue-in-cheek) nominations were considered in nine different award categories.
The candidates are
Adlyxin, Anthim, Axumin, Briviact, Cinqair, Defitelio, Epclusa, Eucrisa, Exondys51, Lartruvo, Netspot, Nuplazid, Ocaliva, Rubraca, Spinraza, Taltz, Tecentriq, Venclexta, Xiidra, Zepatier, Zinbryta, Zinplava
As in past years, the awards illustrate that drug names, as inscrutable as they sometimes appear, are often the first manifestation of the hope and healing that biopharma companies so righteously aim to deliver to patients, caregivers and physicians worldwide.
Lights. Cameras. ACTION!
THE 2017 DRUG NAMING AWARDS
Best Short Film
Awarded to the new drug name that is short, impactful.
(Past winner: Ofev.)
TALTZ (ixekizumab) | Eli Lilly
The one-syllable name, TALTZ, waltzed to a win. That is primarily due to the lack of short drug names in Pharma, both one-syllable names (the contraceptive Yaz, and Pretz, an OTC nasal spray) and four-letter names (Ofev and Z-Pak are two). Enough said.
Awarded to the new drug name that best “tells a story,” or that best aligns with the drug’s indication and brand positioning. (Past winner: Ambien.)
ANTHIM (obiltoxaximab) | Elusys Therapeutics
The Best Direction category was crammed with great candidates this year: CINQAIR (“air” for asthma), NETSPOT (“spot” for imaging agent), and OCALIVA (signals a “liver” treatment). But ANTHIM took home the prize by soundly proclaiming its patriotic and uplifting “anthrax” / “anthem” brand story.
Best Original Song/Sound Edit
Awarded to the new drug name that is rhythmically pleasing or music-related.
(Past winner: Lyrica.)
SPINRAZA (nusinersen) | Biogen
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
Because SPINRAZA “spins” like a record, it got the nod over a strong field. The first and only treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), SPINRAZA improves motor functions in patients…so they can dance better. Rock on!
Awarded to the new drug name that best links to its non-proprietary, generic name.
(Past winner: Rituxan.)
VENCLEXTA (venetoclax) | Abbvie/Genentech
VENCLEXTA out linked its contenders by encoding the /ven/ prefix and mimicking the /clex/ suffix as overtones of venetoclax, its non-proprietary name. Strong competition from ADLYXIN (lixisenatide), BRIVIACT (brivaracetam), EUCRISA (crisaborle), and LARTRUVO (olaratumab) may suggest a naming trend. Stay tuned.
Best Foreign Film
Awarded to the new drug name that is long, unfamiliar, or visually challenging.
(Past winner: Tysabri.)
DEFITELIO (defibrotide) | Jazz Pharmaceuticals
For Patients with Veno-Occlusive Disease (renal or pulmonary dysfunction)
DEFITELIO was definitely the judges’ favorite. DEFITELIO (partially derived from defibrotide) is a five-syllable mouthful, much like a big bowl of pasta. Fittingly, the U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for DEFITELIO by Gentium S.r.I., a Jazz Pharmaceutical company, located in––where else?––Italy. Bello.
Awarded to the new drug name with a unique visual appearance.
(Past winner: Xanax.)
XiiDRA (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) | Shire
Dry Eye Treatment
The judges decided that the i’s have it! The double /ii/ construction visually distinguished XiiDRA from the rest of the field (not unlike the antidepressant drug Viibryd did in 2011). The /ii/ also serves as a visual and verbal double entendre, hinting at multiple ophthalmic features of XiiDRA: 1) it sounds like “eye” (“ZYE-druh”), 2) it treats dry eye disease, 3) it’s applied two times a day, 4) it’s dispensed from two different containers, and 5) the dots on the i’s mimic eyes balls, suggesting eye care. Well played. (Disclosure: Kristen Wiig was not a judge.)
Awarded to the new drug name that has high levels of publicity and/or high projected sales.
(Past winner: Celebrex.)
EXONDYS 51 (eteplirsen) | Sarepta Therapeutics
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)