Naming bias has no place in Pharma.


Amgen is an American multinational bio-pharmaceutical company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. It is the world's largest independent biotechnology firm.


If you’ve heard it once, well you know the rest. Naming can be tough. It’s often emotional and highly subjective. With pharmaceutical preparations this includes a unique combination of obstacles that go beyond legal availability to include regulatory approval in numerous countries. Everyone has personal biases. And that includes your agency.

Amgen came to Zenmark with a novel, innovative new therapy for controlling LDL cholesterol levels in people that have tried everything else. Several other pharma and biotech companies are pursuing the same goal. Everyone wants to be first to market with a category re-defining name to go along with it.

Now, back to the hard part. We typically create thousands of names for each pharmaceutical project. From that we’ll select the top 10% or so and run them thru various legal, linguistic, URL and market searches. Another 10% of that will make it in front of the client. Why so many to start and so few to show? Well if you’ve paid any attention to most drug names you can instantly see what happens if you don’t. “Exotic” would be putting it kindly.

The hurdles are steep. Every drug name must be unique phonetically, visually and orthographically. So, there’s little room for “opinions”. In fact we start most meetings by telling our clients to be as open as possible. Consider every option even if it seems a bit strange upon first blush. Sometimes names that are unique looking or odd sounding will grow on you over time. The point being, flexibility is key.

In this project we were all searching for that perfect name and were committed to working until we had it. It’s pretty common in projects like these for name suggestions to come from all angles and sources. In the course of the project our client sent us a list of names from past projects that for one reason or another had never been put into use. Reviewing legacy names is not uncommon with pharmaceutical projects.

However what was uncommon was Repatha. A name that really embodied everything the project team wanted to say. It’s a simple metaphor for the drug’s internal impact on clogged arteries.

In this instance we didn’t create it. Sure we picked it out of a list, just like our clients select names from our creative presentations. But this time we were the ones calling out someone else’s name as a winner. If we ask our clients to put away their own personal prejudices and biases shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?

We included the name in our validation process: global linguistic assessment, international regulatory safety testing and worldwide market research. Repatha was amongst the top performers in each category.

The answer speaks for itself. Repatha is set to re-define cholesterol medications.

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