Natesto®. What Else? (drug-naming study)

If you’re a manufacturer of medicines, thinking up a suitably snappy name for (2S)-1-[(2S)-6-amino-2-{[(1S)-1-carboxy-3-phenylpropyl]amino}hexanoyl]pyrrolidine-2-carboxylic acid [generic name Lisinopril] might not be an easy task.

And, according to a recent paper in the journal Names : A Journal of Onomastics, Volume 66, Issue 2, 2018, picking the ‘wrong’ name can make a huge difference to your sales figures.

“Considering the huge amount of money devoted to the marketing of new drugs, drug sponsors cannot take the risk of releasing a drug that will not sell. As seen with the contrasting stories of the two brands of lisinopril, both launched in the late 1980s: “ICI Pharmaceuticals called its lisinopril Zestril. Its competitors marketed the same molecule as Carace. Whereas Zestril became one of the medical world’s most successful brands, Carace sank pretty much without trace.”

The author of the study, Dr Pascaline Faure, who is a director of the Département d’Anglais Médical de la Faculté de Médecine Pierre et Marie Curie (Pitié-Salpêtrière/Saint-Antoine), France, points out that although the US regulatory body, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ‘recommended’ that “unsubstantial beneficial” connotations in names should be banned, manufacturers continue to concoct imaginative new tradenames in the hope that they will encourage sales.*

“In our study, we have shown that the commonly used letters X and Z are giving way to A and O endings so as to attract Romance languages speaking clients and conquer other markets such as the Latin American and the European markets. We have demonstrated that this trend matches a less recent ploy in food and automotive marketing. We focused on the “Vowel/Consonant+lexeme” matrix that is found almost exclusively in the drug industry because it permits to create a name shorter in writing – an advantage for prescribers. Although the FDA recommended that “unsubstantial beneficial” connotations be banned, we have uncovered the presence of promotional affixes as well as hidden emotional contents that are meant to be persuasive.”

See: ‘Natesto®. What Else? New Trends in Drug Naming’

* Bonus Assignment [optional] : Are the names designed to appeal to patients, or doctors (or both)?

Note: Bearing in mind that the patent on Lisinopril has long since expired, patients should be able to buy a chemically identical generic version of Lisinopril at a lower price than a branded version – but for those who insist on a named brand, there are quite a few on offer –  here is a partial list :

Acebitor®, Acemin®, Acepril®, Acerdil®, Acetan®, Acinopril®, Adco-Zetomax®, Adicanil®, Agimexpharm®, Agimlisin®, Alapril®, Albigone®, Axelvin®, Biopril®, Bpmed®, Cardiostad®, Cipril®, Cotensil-GMP®, Dapril®, Dikepril®, Diroton®, Diyiluo®, Doneka®, Dosteril®, Doxapril®, Ecapril®, Enlisin®, Eucor®, Fisopril®, Forsine®, Gamalizin®, Genopril®, Glopril®, Gnostoval®, Hipril®, Hyporil®, Icoran®, Ikapril®, Inhitril®, Interpril®, Iricil®, Irumed®, Laaven®, Leruze®, Likenil®, Linipril®, Linopril®, Linoxal®, Linvas®, Lipril®, Liscard®, Lisdene®, Lisi-Hennig®, Lisidigal®, Lisigamma®, Lisigen®, Lisihexal®, LisiHEXAL®, LisiJenson®, Lisinal®, Lisino®, Lisinocor®, Lisinoratio®, Lisinospes®, Lisinovil®, Lisipril®, Lisiprol®, Lisiren®, Lisitril®, Lisodinol®, Lisodura®, Lisopress®, Lisopril®, Lisoril®, Lispril®, Listril®, Lithium-Chlorid®, Lizinopril®, Lizopril®, Lizro®, Lokopool®, Longes®, Lopril®, Loril®, Lysin®, Maxipril®, Nafordyl®, Neopril®, Nivant®, Noperten®, Nopril®, Noprisil®, Odace®, Omace®, Optimon®, Perenal®, Pressamea®, Pressuril®, Prinivil®, Quadrica®, Ranolip®, Ranopril®, Rilace®, Safepril®, Sinopren®, Sinopril®, Sinopryl®, Skopryl®, Stril®, Tensikey®, Tensinop®, Tensiphar®, Tensopril®, Tersif-MD®, Thriusedon®, Tivirlon®, Tonolysin®, Tonotensil®, Vastril®, Vercol®, Veroxil®, Vitopril®, Yi-Mai-Ou®, Yijikang®, Z-Bec®, Zesger®, Zestan®, Zestril®, Zinopril®. [source]

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]