Sunday, May 31, 2015

MY BRAIN ON DRUGS – A Little Fun With "Pharmanyms"

In a previous life I was a copywriter, brand creator and sloganeer. So this post derives as much from that persona as from that of the wondering wanderer I’ve assumed the past few years.

If you’re one of the few folks still watching original, seen-when-aired TV—as opposed to Tivoed programs or on-demand stuff where you can skip the ads—then you’ve seen these incessant commercials for drugs. You can’t watch for ten minutes without seeing one.

Advertisers of everything from hair growers to testosterone boosters to toenail fungus fighters try to convince you—despite the long, speed-read list of sometimes dire side effects—to demand their potion from your doctor. Hell, there are even drugs to improve the performance of the drugs they sold you before!

For starters, shouldn't the insidious tactic of getting you to ask for something your doc may not know much more about than what the culprits themselves have told him be illegal?

And, even if you’re not as cynical as I am, you’ve got to agree there’s something else that's just patently ludicrous about many of these ads: the names.

          I dare you to tell me which are real 
          brands and which are the impostors.

PHOTO: New York Zoological Society via Wikimedia Commons

Does anyone else think, as I do, that you could sit a chimp down in front of a two- or three-column list of random syllables, train it to pick one from each column, and come up with a better name than Xeljanz*? C’mon!

Now, lest you think I’m just ranting—perhaps resentful that some branding pros out there are making a small fortune dreaming up these absurd monikers—here’s a little test. Below is a list of 20 drug brands. (I’ve left out ones so pervasive, like Cialis or Prednisone, that they’ve muscled their way into the vernacular.) I've also spared those which at least try to suggest what they do—like Flonase.

Ten of the names are real, the result, one would assume, of exhaustive research, brainstorming and focus group testing.

The other ten are pure gibberish; I created them in about five minutes using the chimp method—combining randomly-chosen syllables from two or three columns. I challenge you to tell me which are real brands and which are the impostors.

  1. Abradex
  2. Latuda
  3. Cynerol
  4. Osphena
  5. Curina
  6. Stekara
  7. Midaflex
  8. Myrbetriq
  9. Xufera
10. Treximet
11. Infuragel
12. Kaletra
13. Doloram
14. Ertaczo
15. Arterian
16. Fosrenol
17. Jyntala
18. Dacogen
19. Somniz
20. Xarelto

Absolutely insane, right? But then what would you expect from folks who think you’re dumb enough to want something called Revatio?** How about Dumrite? Ufelferit?

 * Xeljanz is a JAK inhibitor, claimed to disrupt the nerve pathways that lead to the inflammation associated with RA.
 ** Revatio, from Pfizer, is the same drug as Viagra, but marketed to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).


jean said...

Yep, the list of dire consequences is always much longer than the list of benefits to the TV drugs. And I always laugh at the benign way the list of deadly consequences is spoken, as if it were just the most normal and natural thing. The names are just outrageous, as you said, and I would love to see the possible consequences all put together as the name of the drug---such as Breathenomore or Possibledeathoreworse -----well, you see where we could take this.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Oh, yes, Jean, that's another ridiculous aspect of this onslaught, all aimed at convincing us to bypass doctors' best counsel and demand certain drug. Then, if you ever watch late-night cable TV, you see the other end of the joke: the lawyers goading you to sue for the occasional occurrence of the very things they made the drug companies disclaim in the first place. Crazy!

custom writing service reviews said...

Haha wow this was quite an interesting read and a thought provoking one too, I never thought of how these drugs are portrayed, thanks for this insightful post.

Jeffrey Willius said...

Thanks, OCWD - glad you enjoyed it.

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