Yearly lists of the "most popular baby names" show how tastes change over time. While Jennifer, Heather, Michael and Jason may have been favorites in decades past, today's top contenders include Emma, Olivia, Liam and Noah. The same applies to pharmaceutical drug names.
"Aspirin," for instance, was a name with legs in the early 20th century. Bayer branded its pain medication with this simple moniker in 1899 and sold it around the world for years. By the end of the century, though, drugs were named with a "blockbuster" edge and struck very different chords. The late 1990s was the era of Celebrex and Viagra as well as the now-infamous OxyContin.
More recently, drugs have reached for even more exotic sounds. Within the past few years, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Farydak for treating multiple myeloma, Avycaz for abdominal infections, Vraylar for schizophrenia, Idelvion for hemophilia, Luzu for athlete's foot and Byvalson for high blood pressure.
Saying these names aloud, some may hear a strange and lovely music, while others may imagine aliens arriving from distant planets. Similarly, naming a drug is a complicated process.
"Prozac is what I call the Big Bang of pharmaceutical naming. It came out of nowhere, it means absolutely nothing, and it really just said, 'Wow, OK, this is blockbuster naming in the drug world,' " said Scott Piergrossi, vice president of creative development at the Brand Institute, which names, tests, markets or otherwise works on about 75% of FDA-approved names each year and about two-thirds of the global names.
Though each step of the naming process presents hurdles, approval for a brand name is the most difficult to clear. More…