I dunno. Let's call it "Sparky".

Rooting through the medicine cabinet at home the other day, I ran across my wife’s bottle of phenergen(sp?) - but the label said ‘promethazine’. What’s the deal with naming drugs? Is there some sort of process or guideline to coming up with those kind of names? For that matter, why is it done at all? Some kind of proprietary thing?

All I wanna do is to thank you, even though I don’t know who you are…

Well, all psychotronic-type drugs have to be named after space aliens. “I am Prozac, from the planet Paxil. Our leader Zoloft sends his greetings.”

Off the top of my head, there’s a couple of reasons I know of; firstly, the chemical names, even the trivial ones often do not roll off the tongue or are difficult to pronounce because of unusual syllables eg phth- or tetraa-. Secondly, companies often go to great lengths to find a snappy name which is unoffensive in any language. An example I remember is KLEA134a, named Klea, a non-ozone depleting refrigerant. IIRC, ICI spent months and a not inconsiderable amount of money arriving at this name.

Isn’t “Premarine” a contraction of “Pregnant Mare Urine,” which was the original source of the hormone replacement?

Thanks for doing your bit to advance the cause of human knowledge.
  – Cecil Adams

When I worked at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, when it came time to name the drug, they actually asked employees to submit the names and the winner got dinner for two at a fancy restaurant. The drug, which was a ‘retinoid’ that ‘targeted’ acute promyleocytic leukemia was named ‘Targretin’. I’d say in general though, that the name is supplied by the marketing department which usually uses either a portion of 1) the real drug name, 2) it’s area of application or 3) they pull something out of the clear blue sky and name it after a greek god or the Sanskrit word for ‘happiness’ (insert the anidepressants Paxil, Zoloft, etc. here). For an example of 1 and 2 used together, witness the genius at work at this marketing meeting:

“Well Bob, it’s an alcohOL based cream you smear on your ANUS when you’ve got hemorroids so bad it feels like your lungs are coming out your ass every time you take a shit”

“Hey, how about ANUSOL?”

How did you know? LOL Geeze! Those exact same words are said at every single marketing meeting I’ve ever been to!

Trivial meaningless gunk slopped onto the table with salad oil from the sandwiches brought in so not to interrupt the creative minds slaving away over hot pencils to come up with…ANUSOL.

And people will buy it 'cause they like the name!

Thanks for the reminder.

Are you driving with your eyes open or are you using The Force? - A. Foley

The drug name must also be dissimilar enough from existing names so as to minimize confusion. The drug CELEBREX has been through a couple of name changes for this reason (although i don’t recall the previous names).

Anybody remember a diet pill offered in the early 80s that was marketed under the name “Ayds”? I assume either the name was changed or the product was pulled off the market entirely. Anyway, talk about an unfavorable choice of names.


{b]Doghouse** That’s nothing. Originally the diet pill was called “AIDS”. Although some people I’ve talked to say that it had been around for years before Auto-Immune Deficiency Syndrome became known as such, so it was something that couldn’t be helped. The company changed it to “AYDS” after AIDS became widely known.

All I wanna do is to thank you, even though I don’t know who you are…

Along the same vein, products sold in Canada must be labelled in English and French. A certain lip balm used to say, in French, that it was effective against “herpes labial”.They seem to have revised that translation a couple of years ago.

Nope, the diet candy (not pill) was always called AYDS. My Mom took them as far back as the 1950s, and they probably existed before then (they tasted pretty good, my sister and I used to steal them). The poor folks finally had to go out of business, of course, in the early 1980s, by which time their TV ads sounded pretty creepy: “I lost 40 pounds with AYDS, and am I delighted!”

They briefly tried changing their name to “Diet-Ayds,” but it was too late.