Our Thoughts


To follow a few previous more general thoughts on the “art and science” of pharmaceutical product name development, here is a briefer examination of a couple of recent style trends in oncology and elsewhere, as well as some notable differences in regional trademark registration approaches and strategies to enhance Rx (pre)scriptability/legibility.


Mechanical action

In cancer treatment naming most particularly there is a very identifiable trend toward functionality: INN word-part inclusion and mechanism of action encoding within trademarks.

Numerous recently approved oncology brand names speak to prescribers by indicating INN-suggestive or indicative word-parts to aid prescriber identification, including: Blincyto (blinatumomab), Zydelig (idelalisib), Beleodaq (belinostat), Sylvant (siltuximab) and Cyramza (ramucirumab).

Mechanism of action suggestion is not a particularly new phenomenon – seen previously with Herceptin (denoting HER2 receptors) amongst other brands – or exclusive to the therapy area but oncology is obviously a specialised field in which specialist prescriber messaging is both most apt and also of high importance. Pathway inhibition, receptor and protein references resound with oncologists and abound within cancer treatment names, including: Mekinist (MEK inhibitor), Xalkori, Alkeran (both imply ALK fusion gene), Zelboraf (BRAF protein), Tyverb/Tykerb (tyrosine kinase inhibitor) and Jakavi/Jakafi (JAK 1 and 2 inhibitors). These last two examples also show how tradename development, and registration, can vary between regions.


Enigma variations

Although the ideal global standard is to develop and register a single, consistent drug tradename throughout every market where the product is available, there are multiple instances where such a strategy may not be possible for a variety of potential reasons. Ownership (or licensing) may differ between markets, cultural/linguistic acceptability or approval/registration issues may necessitate a spelling variation which in many cases remains recognisably similar – even if a sometime departure from many companies professed “one world, one brand” protocols. There is thankfully little alphabetical (or phonetic) distance between the EU/US versions of Giotrif/Gilotrif, Forxiga/Farxiga, Gazyvaro/Gazyva and Dasselta/Dasetta.


Up and down

In a bid to increase meaningful orthographic (i.e. written) differentiation (particularly when drug names are scripted by hand) and easily distinguished legibility, a combination of ascender (upstroke) and descender (downstroke) Roman alphabet characters can often be an advantage. Above-the-line letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) interspersed with those occurring below-the-line (g, j, p, q, y) can often yield tradenames that offer easy-to-write, easy-to-read visual stand-out value including recent approvals: Plegridy, Cerdelga, Ryanodex, Targiniq, Zydelig, Vazsculep, Vizamyl, Xultophy, Velphoro, Zaltrap.


Flexible formation

Clearly, Rx name development is a process that must take into account a wealth of different tactics and strategies according to any number of variable criteria. Remaining open-minded to a diversity of possible solutions to ever-evolving challenges is key to eventual Rx branding success.


To contact Purple Fire Branding, specialists in brand naming, strategy, research and design, please telephone +44 (0)20 8166 1853 or email info@purplefirebranding.com