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Zymymar – Drug or Demon?

If you guessed “Zymymar” was the name of a newly approved groundbreaking drug for the treatment of the enzyme-deficiency Fabry disease, you were incorrect.

Zymymar is indeed reminiscent of exotic, consonant-heavy drug names. Drug makers include less commonly used letters in new drug names to stand out among the sea of drug approvals; Drug names use 3, 16 and 18 times as many Qs, Xs and Zs as words in the English lexicon.

What else goes into the drug-naming process? Some drug names reflect intended use, mechanism, emotions, or even colors. Think Wakix (excessive daytime sleepiness), Latisse (a portmanteau of lash and Matisse), or Reblozyl (anemia, i.e. low red blood cells). However, names overtly suggestive of clinical benefit may be rejected or modified in certain jurisdictions; Regaine in Europe is Rogaine in the USA as not everyone who uses the product will regain hair. For safety reasons, new drug names must avoid similarity with existing drugs, and drug companies also ensure the name has no negative connotations in other languages or cultures. It really is all in the name.

-Andrea B.


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