Have you noticed the sexy, catchy names on those drugs in your medicine cabinet, on store shelves and now in television ads? This is no accident. Pharmaceutical companies put lots of research – and money – into a drug name in the hope of giving it a shot in the arm, so to speak, in the competitive world of drug marketing. You’ll notice lots of hard consonants in those names – especially v’s and z’s and x’s – in an attempt to make them appealing: Nexium®, Viagara®, Vioxx®. If it’s fun to say, maybe you’ll ask your doctor for some! Maybe you’ll brag about taking it just to pronounce the trendy name. You’ll be a walking billboard for that “little purple pill!” (which is actually esomeprazole, which is almost as fun to say).
Some drug names even try to subliminally conjure up images of what they’re used for, so the oblivious customer chooses it from the shelf. A few are portmanteaus (a combination of parts of words), such as Prevacid®, which prevents acid, and Bufferin®, which is buffered aspirin. Abilify® (that’s a fun one to say!) has a very positive-sounding name that makes you think “ability”: it treats depression. Lopressor® lowers blood pressure. Harmonyl® (doesn’t that sound nice?) treats hypertension.
And drug names don’t need to be new to be sexy. Robitussin®, which has been around for years, has a catchy name that, like most drug brands, is much more marketable than its chemical name of guaifenesin. Try asking for that at the drug store, especially with a stuffed-up nose!
For those too young to catch the reference in this entry’s title, a commercial for Rolaids® used to ask “How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S!” Rolaids® are, of course, rolled aids for indigestion.