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Difficulties of drug-naming process


While the names of popular medicines such as Prozac, Viagra and Lipitor do not have a specific meaning, new research shows that millions of dollars are spent creating them.

The research shows that letters with a hard edge like P, T or K convey effectiveness, X is regarded as scientific, while L, R or S provide a calming or relaxing feel.

But the naming process is getting more difficult. Regulatory guidelines are becoming more restrictive, and the brand market is more crowded.

Last year more than 14,000 new drug names were filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which is a 23% increase from 2003, according to Thomson CompuMark, a trademark research firm.

And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now reviews between 300 and 400 names each year.

Before a new drug earns any money, companies must find a brand that works in different languages, passes US trademark and FDA reviews, and proves to be unique in the European Union’s 27 countries.

The research shows that it can cost $250,000 to $500,000 to create and test the name, then up to $2m more to guide it through trademark searches and regulatory reviews, and the entire process can last up to three years.

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