Big Pharma's Drug Problem - Names
Deep in top secret labs (specifically marketing labs) Big Pharma is depriving innocent phonemes of sleep, waterboarding pronounceability, and coming perilously close to exhausting all 403 sextillion possible combinations of our precious 26 letter alphabetic resource in pursuit of trademarkable drug names.
How long before we’re taking 50 mg a day of MVWZHQXQXWPPQARQFFX for our anxiety? The name won’t fit on the bottle. We can’t be sure we’re taking the right pill. And we know where
that will lead… more anxiety. Coincidence?
Motivations behind some of the mashups feel a little dubious, too. Ocrevus is, no doubt, an
excellent drug. But could the makers be trying to subliminally entice fans of OkraFests– the
preeminent annual slime-based veg gatherings? Or perhaps trigger psycho-sexual associations
with the O Crevice! The lurid fan fiction sequel to Willa Cather’s O Pioneer! The Wild Land, Indeed.
I know the companies want to protect their “intellectual property” (because their salicylic acid
is soooo different than everybody else’s) but c’mon. Every drug has a chemical name already.
Why do they need to make up an entirely new moniker? They aren’t rap artists.
I understand that there are a lot of new drugs every year. But you know what there are also a
lot of? Humans. About eight billion of them. With a lot of turnover every year.
That turnover, by the way, may very well be higher than it should be. How many grandpas are
already dying each day at the CVS drive thru strangling on their own uvula while trying to ask
for Upadacitinib? How many more will die when they accidentally are given
Jiggymaxjizzlamafrak rather than the prescribed Jiggymaxjizlamafram?
Getting back to humans… we don’t try to come up with unique names for each one of us. Sure,
there are duplicates, but we have tools to deal with that. Junior, The Elder, The Rock, Thee
Here’s the solution Pharma bros: chemical name as last name and regular first and middle
names. For example:
Sarah Jessica Paracetamol
William H. Gabapentin
John Wayne Methylprednisolone
Then, if a second firm wants to market their own versions, they just move to:
Lisa Marie Paracetamol
Lil Uzi Gabapentin
David Hyde Methylprednisolone
See how easy that is?
Even if you don’t want to use the chemical name, use regular names instead of franken-
syllables. Say you have a new drug to treat Steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease). Call it Fatty
Arbuckle. Yes, it’s an old reference but that’s actually good because the whole rape-y, murder-y
thing has faded and you’re left with a memorable, pronounceable, and feel good brand name.
Another example, Glycopyrrolate is sometimes prescribed to treat Hyperhidrosis (aka excessive
sweating). As it happens, my surname is – not making this up – Sweat. If there’s a pharma out
there that would like to market a version of Glycopyrrolate specifically targeting the
Disproportionately Moist community, I will entertain licensing offers for the use of my name.
Get in touch. I’m sure we can work something out.
*For each moot, we generate a cover image using DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'Big Pharma's Drug Problem - Names' in the style of Peter Max, Craig's artist of choice.*