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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Experimental Compound Codes | Main | Mass Spec on Mars »

October 24, 2006

Naming of Names

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Posted by Derek

Man, are there ever a lot of companies that I've never heard of on that compound code list. Looking over the names, some of which are clearly more inspired than others, I'd like to suggest a few biotech naming rules. Some of these I know have been previously proposed, both in our field and in other tech areas, but those gentle suggestions do not seem to have sunk in. So. . .

1. Enough of the letter X already. Ending your company name with it puts you in the middle of a herd, starting with it makes you look desperate, and putting in the middle doesn't do you any good. Double x? Idiotic. X out the x, please. It isn't high-tech any more: doesn't anyone realize that Xerox itself started using that name more than forty years ago? And at least they had a derivation from a real word on their side, not something that sounds like a space cat coughing up a hyperspace hairball.

2. Enough of the damned InterCaps, while we're at it. This was an awful fad twenty years ago in the software business, and for some reason it doesn't seem to have died out in the biotech/pharma world. No one wants to reach for the shift key in the middle of your company's name, and no, it does not look spiffy. It makes you look like a shareware company developing hot new apps for Mac OS 7.

3. Putting your company's name in lowercase is an even more pathetic attention-seeking device. Everyone who types your company's name will roll their eyes, and half the time they'll capitalize it out of inattention or sheer spite. And as for starting in lower-case and switching to all caps, words fail me. I'm looking at you, deCODE. deSIST!

4. Naming your company after the disease, body part, or function that you want to work on is fine, if rather unimaginative. But naming it after the way you want to do it sounds a bit. . .boastful. Calling yourself "Predictomatic Pharmaceuticals" or "IntelliDesign Biosystems" sticks you right into the "put up or shut up" category. And yes, it's true that this is the category that all small companies are in, when you get down to it, but you don't necessarily want to be so blatant about it.

5. The following words and word fragments should be deleted from all further lists of possible biotech names: Ribo. Thera. Immuno. Gen(e). Med. Tronics. Vax. Bio. Anti. I realize that this may well leave some of you with no possible names at all. Take that as a sign.

Comments (24) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Drug Industry History


COMMENTS

1. Steven Jens on October 24, 2006 9:23 PM writes...

Are drugs named by the same people as comic-book villans? Or is it just a coincidence?

Permalink to Comment

2. daen on October 25, 2006 6:55 AM writes...

Bad day at the Wonder Drug Factory, Derek? :-)

"Enough of the letter X already."

"The following words and word fragments should be deleted from all further lists of possible biotech names: Ribo. Thera. Immuno. Gen(e). Med. Tronics. Vax. Bio. Anti. I realize that this may well leave some of you with no possible names at all. Take that as a sign."

Bye bye Biogen, Genentech and Amgen? Ciao Celgene, Genencor and Regeneron? Au revoir Medimmune? Vamoose, Vertex, Tanox and Abgenix? Your rules would decimate the top 100 list of biotechs if retrospectively applied, Derek ...

Permalink to Comment

3. burt on October 25, 2006 8:17 AM writes...

Prediction: "K" will be the new "X". Kalypsys, Kosan, Kinexis

Permalink to Comment

4. Timothy on October 25, 2006 9:43 AM writes...

If I ever found a biotech firm I'm going to name it:

AntiBioGENmedVaxTronics ImmunoTheraRiboxxx

I will do this just to spite you, because I am evil.

Permalink to Comment

5. The Disgruntled Chemist on October 25, 2006 10:31 AM writes...

I guess Medtronic is right out, then.

Permalink to Comment

6. Yttrai on October 25, 2006 11:05 AM writes...

I find it ironic and amusing that you left Ariad off the list.....(Its AP, for the record)

And, in our defense, the word vertex actually has a real world meaning and was carefully and thoughtfully chosen. Of course, that's probably what all the other Xxxxxians think about their names :D

Permalink to Comment

7. Sigivald on October 25, 2006 12:36 PM writes...

Ribogen-Theravax actually sounds pretty cool.

Permalink to Comment

8. daen on October 25, 2006 12:53 PM writes...

"If I ever found a biotech firm I'm going to name it: AntiBioGENmedVaxTronics ImmunoTheraRiboxxx"

It's not about a biotech, but Timothy's post reminded me of this: http://www.union.ic.ac.uk/medic/fitness/tracks/Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin.mp3 ... ***warning*** contains swearing, music and Englishmen.

Permalink to Comment

9. Cryptic Ned on October 25, 2006 1:16 PM writes...

You forgot to ban the use of "Zyme".

Permalink to Comment

10. Patrick on October 25, 2006 1:52 PM writes...

Greek and Latin word roots will always remain popular. I'm waiting for companies in this space to start getting creative in the way the wine industry has. Care to try the new drug from Fat Bastard Pharmaceuticals?

Permalink to Comment

11. MolecularGeek on October 25, 2006 1:59 PM writes...

Patrick,
You think that they wll try to acquire the rights to the next-generation orlistat analog?

MG

Permalink to Comment

12. Yttrai on October 25, 2006 2:20 PM writes...

I find it ironic and amusing that you left Ariad off the list.....(Its AP, for the record)

And, in our defense, the word vertex actually has a real world meaning and was carefully and thoughtfully chosen. Of course, that's probably what all the other Xxxxxians think about their names :D

Permalink to Comment

13. daen on October 25, 2006 3:27 PM writes...

Vertex ... hmm, seem to recall from "The Billion Dollar Molecule" that Josh Boger started out with "Veritas" originally, but that Harvard put the kibosh on it and "Vertex" was plan B.

Permalink to Comment

14. Abel Pharmboy on October 25, 2006 7:29 PM writes...

Great points, Derek - whatever happened to the days where good British and German apothecaries would name the company after their own family names to encourage trust in the organization? Why not "Lowe Pharmaceuticals?"

Permalink to Comment

15. Derek Lowe on October 25, 2006 9:19 PM writes...

Exactly. Look at the big old guys, many named after the family that founded them: Merck, Pfizer, Squibb, Schering, Wyeth, SmithKline.

Lowe Pharmaceuticals. . .sounds better than LoweTech, I have to say.

Permalink to Comment

16. James Powell on October 25, 2006 9:27 PM writes...

Derek,

How about a contest using just those pieces of names from #5 to see what the best fake (non real company) name someone can come up with?

I'd agree (even as a total outsider) as to the fact that there are way too many NuPharm or similar named companies.

Permalink to Comment

17. Chrispy on October 25, 2006 10:43 PM writes...


So dead companies are fair game. too? Add MMX for Molecumetics, R.I.P.

And I vote for Immunolowetronics...

Permalink to Comment

18. Kinasepro on October 25, 2006 11:16 PM writes...

SUPERGEN 4TW !!!1!

Permalink to Comment

19. milo on October 26, 2006 10:13 AM writes...

LoweTech could be the name of a university or trade school...

For a good list of companies that could not survive, check out: http://www.biotechcareercenter.com/Graveyard_index.html

Permalink to Comment

20. kiwi on October 26, 2006 5:13 PM writes...

we should start another science name list as well. we'll start with anyone whose field ends in "omics".

Permalink to Comment

21. daen on October 26, 2006 5:33 PM writes...

"there are way too many NuPharm or similar named companies".

Now just a minute, Mr Powell. I work for a very real company called Nuevolution, so you're a bit too close to home with that one ... :-)

Permalink to Comment

22. Doc Bushwell on October 31, 2006 8:54 PM writes...

daen: "Bad day at the Wonder Drug Factory, Derek? :-)"

No. Herr Doktor Lowe has simply assumed a curmudgeonly Andy Rooney mien minus the luxuriant eyebrows and ear hair.

Permalink to Comment

23. David on November 1, 2006 7:36 AM writes...

No mention of LactoSmithKline....
http://www.gsk.com/infocus/glaxo-birthday.htm

Permalink to Comment

24. Derek Lowe on November 1, 2006 11:30 AM writes...

They're coming, Doc B., they're coming.

Permalink to Comment

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