How do they come up with these new drug brand names?

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In summary, there is a process for naming drugs that involves obtaining a chemical name, a generic name, and a brand name. The generic names are chosen using a set of rules and often give an indication of the drug's composition or purpose. These names may also be chosen for their cleverness or effectiveness in marketing. However, the FDA has guidelines for what types of names are acceptable and may reject names that are too fanciful or misleading.
  • #1

berkeman

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Do they use some sort of an AI program with a random character generator attached? My goodness -- I just saw this drug advertised on TV, and it reminded me that drug brand names seem so random (and usually hard to remember)... I'd name my new drugs more like "BestDigest" and "BannishAFib" or similar... o0)

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  • #3
Drugs will actually have three names, an IUPAC name for the chemical compound, a generic name (because, often the IUPAC name would be much too long and complicated to be practical), and a brand name:
A branded prescription drug is actually known by three names.

The pharmaceutical company gives a new drug a chemical name based on a set of rules established by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

For any drug that will be marketed in the United States, the next step is obtaining a name from United States Adopted Name Council. It assigns the active ingredient of the drug a generic name, which must be cleared and reviewed by the International Nonproprietary Name program run by the World Health Organization.

"This step assures that there is one non-proprietary (generic) name throughout the world for the drug," explained Stephanie C. Shubat, director of the Adopted Name Council.

With the generic name settled, a pharmaceutical company proposes a brand name to the FDA, to mark the product as its own.

For example, an antidepressant is known in the lab by its chemical name: N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-[4-(trifluoromethyl) phenoxy]propan-1-amine. The generic name assigned to this complex chemical is fluoxetine. To the rest of us, the drug is commonly known as https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010346/?report=details.
https://www.cnn.com/2016/11/25/health/art-of-drug-naming/index.html

Brand names generally will come from consultants that the pharmaceutical companies hire (see the CNN article linked above).
 
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  • #4
berkeman said:
I'd name my new drugs more like "BestDigest" and "BannishAFib" or similar... o0)
Unfortunately, this would likely be against FDA rules:
The FDA also rejects names that seem too fanciful or overstate a drug's effectiveness and puts the kibosh on names that might stigmatize a patient (or condition).

"If you are wanting to do metaphors that are life-affirming, and you want to think of things like trees or flowers or something strong like metal, you cannot do that, because it might suggest an ingredient," Teck noted.

https://www.cnn.com/2016/11/25/health/art-of-drug-naming/index.html
 
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  • #5
Thanks @Ygggdrasil -- I'm still curious about the generic names that are chosen:
For any drug that will be marketed in the United States, the next step is obtaining a name from United States Adopted Name Council. It assigns the active ingredient of the drug a generic name, which must be cleared and reviewed by the International Nonproprietary Name program run by the World Health Organization.

"This step assures that there is one non-proprietary (generic) name throughout the world for the drug," explained Stephanie C. Shubat, director of the Adopted Name Council.
So many of the generic names are just letter salad to me (like the example I posted in my OP). Are they chosen using any type of strategy, like the Medical Terms that we learn and use? At least with standard Medical Terminology, I have a pretty good idea what a medical term ending in -itis or in -cillin will be about. Is there anything similar that is used for drug generic names that helps doctors and pharmacists to remember them and what they are for?
 
  • #6
There are some sets of rules for coming up with generic names. Usually, the last part of the drug name tells you something about the composition or use of the drug. For example, the drug you mention in the OP, vedolizumab, ends in -mab, which indicates that the drug is a monoclonal antibody and tells me a lot about how the drug might work and the requirements for dosing (e.g. needs to be delivered intravenously). Other monoclonal antibody drugs contain a similar ending despite being used for different purposes (trastuzumab [Herceptin] for treatment of breast cancer, adalimumab [Humira] as an anti-inflamatory). Other endings may indicate usage, for example, oseltamivir (Tamiflu for influenza), sofosbuvir (Sovaldi for Hep C), and Tenofovir disoproxil (Viread for HIV) are all antiviral drugs.
 
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  • #7
berkeman said:
Thanks @Ygggdrasil -- I'm still curious about the generic names that are chosen:

So many of the generic names are just letter salad to me (like the example I posted in my OP). Are they chosen using any type of strategy, like the Medical Terms that we learn and use? At least with standard Medical Terminology, I have a pretty good idea what a medical term ending in -itis or in -cillin will be about. Is there anything similar that is used for drug generic names that helps doctors and pharmacists to remember them and what they are for?

Some of these are quite clever, Salbutamol for asthma attacks tell one nothing about what it does but "Ventolin" gives a different story, "proventol" is not quite correct as it does not prevent anything (unless you count not breathing) but the name is still a good one as far as I am concerened. As stated by other posters, what it is and what it does.

On the other hand, sometimes the chemical name active agent is enough, If I had to nip to the chemist and the pharmacist called out my name to pick up my 30mg of Diltiazem hydrochloride Cream, I would be glad they used that name rather than its trade name, Ano-heal.
 
  • #8
Ygggdrasil said:
for example, oseltamivir (Tamiflu for influenza), sofosbuvir (Sovaldi for Hep C), and Tenofovir disoproxil (Viread for HIV) are all antiviral drugs.
Interesting, thanks very much. I had a patient last weekend who mentioned a drug they were taking for HIV (I initially contacted him about some vertigo he was experiencing), and it seems like it ended in -vir. I should have tried harder to memorize what he said so I could look it up afterwards, but things were a bit busy at that point. :smile:
 
  • #9
pinball1970 said:
On the other hand, sometimes the chemical name active agent is enough, If I had to nip to the chemist and the pharmacist called out my name to pick up my 30mg of Diltiazem hydrochloride Cream...
Interesting... I use diltiazem as an anti-hypertensive, the oral route of course... . :oldsmile:
And... you're right about the problem area, non-oral route... . lolNow, I guess I'll need to take a real good look at my graphic equaliser... I just do not remember seeing a setting for...
... increase basal anal tone ...

:biggrin: ...

.
 
  • #10
berkeman said:
Interesting, thanks very much. I had a patient last weekend who mentioned a drug they were taking for HIV (I initially contacted him about some vertigo he was experiencing), and it seems like it ended in -vir. I should have tried harder to memorize what he said so I could look it up afterwards, but things were a bit busy at that point.

Probably lots have that ending, Acyclovir Retrovir Tenofovir some to deal with the virus itself and others the opportunistics?

Acyclovir is a good name I think it tells one more about the drug than the commercial name Zovirax

I think the worst one I have heard Ibuleve – Ibuprofen gel for muscular skeletal pain

The “Ibu” I get, sounds like Ibuprofen but I Bu-leve?? Pronounced “Lea-ve?”Do they think its sounds like “ I Believe?” What does that mean? “I believe Ibuprofen will work” I really Bu-leave it?It will work because it is a decent anti-inflammatory no other reason.
 

What is the process for creating new drug brand names?

The process for creating new drug brand names is typically done by a pharmaceutical company's marketing team. They work closely with their legal team and often consult with branding experts to come up with a name that is both memorable and unique.

How are drug brand names different from generic drug names?

Drug brand names are different from generic drug names in that they are created by the pharmaceutical company and are often trademarked. Generic drug names, on the other hand, are the scientific names of the active ingredient in the drug.

What factors are considered when coming up with a drug brand name?

When coming up with a drug brand name, factors such as the target market, the intended use of the drug, and the competition are all considered. The name must also be easy to pronounce and remember, and it should not be too similar to existing drug names to avoid confusion.

How long does it take to come up with a drug brand name?

The process of coming up with a drug brand name can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. It involves extensive research, brainstorming, and legal checks to ensure the name is not already trademarked or too similar to existing names.

Can drug brand names be changed after they have been approved?

Yes, drug brand names can be changed after they have been approved. This is usually done if the company discovers that the name is too similar to an existing name or if there are trademark issues. However, changing a drug brand name can be a lengthy and costly process, so it is usually only done as a last resort.

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