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NAME THAT DRUG!

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Thu., 4/10/08
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What does the word "Prozac" say to you? Or "Viagra"? Yes, they're brand names for widely used prescription drugs, but how did these meds get those names?

Believe it or not, there is a naming industry--consulting firms that specialize in the art, science, and voodoo of coming up with monikers that subliminally make consumers feel positive about drugs.

Sound hokey? You be the judge. The consultants (who get paid up to $500,000 per drug name) insist that letters are imbued with psychological meaning. P,T, and K, they claim, convey effectiveness. Z is speed, X is scientific, and L is calming.

The honcho of Namebase, the branding firm that worked with Eli Lilly to name the antidepressant Prozac, loves the impact of just the first syllable. "Pro," he explained to an AP reporter, "makes the speaker pucker up and push out a burst of air, which grabs attention and implies effectiveness."

Hmmm. Would that burst of positiveness also apply to "profane," "profligate," or "promiscuous"?

How about "Viagra"? Anthony Shore, who is "global director of naming" for another branding firm, says that "Viagra" is all about power, causing gullible consumers to associate the product with Niagara Falls.

The word that comes to mind when I hear this is "claptrap"--conveying artifice, humbuggery, and a deep sense of being had.



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Filed Under: Prescription drugs