Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"My First Contest - The Sequel (Although It's Not Really A Sequel Because It's Not Really A Contest Although Come To Think Of It Sequels Are Not Exact Duplicates Of The Original So On Second Thought It Could Be A Sequel But Without The Contest. Thank You And We'll See You Tomorrow"

Boy, was that long!  It was like I couldn’t stop myself.  Can you believe it?  Nearly eight years of doing this and I have not learned the difference between a title and a blog post. 

Besides that, I’m tired.

Oh, well. 

Moving on. 

With the energy I have left.

A while back, I offered a post in the form of a contest, which failed miserably because it was impossible to actually participate in it.  Making it not a real contest or a contest devised by a person unfamiliar with the meaning of the word.

Or me. 

Who believed it was a contest but later realized it wasn’t.

Where did I get the idea for that abomination of a contest?  From watching TV.  Specifically the stations whose programs I prefer, which apparently appeal to my entire age cohort, as the commercials on them are primarily for prescription medicines – interspersed with ads for “Class Action” lawsuits targeting prescription medicines that could seriously injure or kill you – my admittedly idiosyncratic attention was drawn to the bizarre names these prescription medicines were provided.

What seemed increasingly odd to me was that the product names they were given provided no indication of the illnesses those prescription medicines were intended to treat. 

From an advertising perspective, this obscuring strategy seemed inexplicable to me.  Do you not want the name you give it to remind you of the product?


They look like the thing on the boat.  You remember the thing, it reminds you what to ask for. 

“Booyah!”, right?

Prescription medicines manufacturers do not do that.  And it seems like it’s deliberate.  And pervasive – every pharmaceutical company does exactly the same thing. 

Although admittedly not all-inclusive, of all the prescription remedies – thirteen from the original “contest” and the new batch I am adding today – not one of them has a product name that is not entirely…


Triggering two questions in my ever-curious thinking place:

One – “Why do they do that?”

And Two –

“‘A’:  How do they come up with these names? 

And “B”:  “If the prescription medicines’ names are, in fact, meaningless, how do the pharmaceutical companies determine exactly which meaningless name to apply to which product?

The product names – reflecting nothing that I am aware of – appear to be totally…


Which was the point of my original “contest”, wherein the readers were challenged to match a list of currently marketed prescription medicines with the maladies they were developed to alleviate.

A challenge which, the prescription medicines’ names being notoriously unrevealing unless you are personally familiar with them – cannot possible be performed.

Making it, as was previously mentioned, in a hopefully apologetic manner…

An unworkable contest.

Whose screaming insufficiency I shall refrain from duplicating today.

I shall instead simply supplement the earlier list with some recently discovered product names, all of them deserving to be enshrined in – if their were such an institution and there is no reason there should be – “The Hall of Fame of Inexplicable Labeling”:



Harvoni (Possibly inspired by a guy named Harvey who cleans the ice at hockey games.)



Gjelina – (No, that’s an upscale restaurant close to our house.  You can see how I could get them confused.)


Novolog – (Not to be confused with Vovolog, which is apparently a website offering photographss of amateur sex.)


Bravecto  (Wait!  Did I make that one up?  No.  Bravecto is flea and tick medicine.  As if you needed to be told.)


Trezia (Okay, I made that one up.  But don’t tell me it doesn’t fit.)

And Xeljanz

And there you have it, not a single medicine name making the tiniest effort at mnemonic assistance.

Do they not want us to remember the names?

Ex-Lax – it’s a laxative.  They got it right.  Ditto for Dulcolax.  Byepoopia – not a real thing, but at least you know what it helps you with.  Aleve – scrambling back to the tonal high ground – “allev”-iates pain.  Remember Geritol?  It made geriatrics stand tall.  Or something.

Prescription medicines?  It’s like a masquerade ball.  Only the obscuring camouflage is their labels.

Why do they do that? 

There must be a reason.

Maybe that should be my new contest.

A bucket of tar – as the headmaster of the school I taught in in England used to say – for the best – or most imaginative – explanation.


Jed said...

As much as I need a bucket of tar, I don't have any idea how companies come up w/drug names. (Suppose they have internal contests w/special prizes for the winners, such as drugs that are desirable?) So I did have one idea.

Fred said...

Earl, there is a reason and a pretty good one. I don't know how to have you contact me if you really want a tutorial on pharmaceutical drug names, mostly because I don't want my phone number on your blog for the world to see. Also, I'm not sure that it is not a rhetorical question.

What to do?

maxk1947 said...

Go to pharmatutor.org. The article is "Naming of Drug Molecules and Pharmaceutical Brands." It's a very thorough, but easily understandable, answer to your questions.-Max (a compulsive reader of Ken Levine's blog).

I hope you're fully well soon.