Billionaire Business of Monikers

English Version by Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano. © (2016)
Written by Vittorio Zucconi, D – la Repubblica 5/3/2016, 5 marzo 2016

A rose is a rose is a rose … wrote Gertrude Stein. She meant that a name of any given thing can change, yet not the thing itself. This simple truth is under attack.

In fact, Big Pharmaceutical Corporations – such as Big Pharma – spend money every single day in the attempt to prove Gertrude Stein was wrong. That is, by changing its name a rose will turn into something else … and even its smell won’t be the same anymore.

This is what happens in the Giant Business of the Moniker creations for new drugs. Corporations spend a great deal of money in order to guess the perfect sequence of letters – a magical spell to utter – that somehow will compel people in a quest for a cure or something else to buy a certain product instead of the one sold by other competitors. Welcome to a 330 ($) Billion Market – $1000 per US Citizen! No wonder why these businesses spend so much money only to find the right name (who said that words don’t count?)

Could you try to picture Barry Sanders walking into a pharmacy just to ask for a methylpiperazine citrate? That is quite difficult, and certainly, the charming Barry will have given up any romantic project.

What if, instead, he could utter some magic spell such as Viagra or the Blue pill? Would anyone mind even a product named after the cause of its action, BONER?

After all, a moniker for a drug has to tease the imagination/desire of the prospective consumers. Then we have more manhood driven names such as “Viagra” and its subliminal recall of the Latin word “VIR”, MANLINESS. Others will be composed by strong and intimidating letters such the infamous “X” which promise “EFFICACY”: Nexium, Xarelto, Xanax, SubXone, Relpax … Every single medication needs three names:
1. The scientific one.
2. The commercial one.
3. The generic one: to be used by any company when the rights of the patented drug have elapsed.

What’s the point of all of this?

Marketing and Moniker research for drugs do not come without risks for our health. Different drugs with similar names can create confusion, therefore disastrous effects. A prime example is the one of a lady affected by bronchial asthma who was searching to control her spasmodic coughing fits. She was swallowing pills whose commercial name was similar to those for an enlarged prostate. The lady died. Meanwhile, a man with a swollen soccer-ball-like prostate was taking deep breaths during his endless rushes to the bathroom.

At the joining point of science and profit, as well as persuasive devices and drug-induced effects, the very boundary between what really helps us and what beefs up Corporate Banking Accounts overlap and get blurred. BEWARE! A harmless Moniker could have a concealed “STING” ready for you, just as Gertrude’s rose.

Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano
Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano

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