Pharmaceutical Companies To Rename Popular Medications
October 5, 2005
NEW YORK , NY—Representatives of Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, and other pharmaceutical giants released a joint statement today confirming that, due to “an increasing difficulty in communicating via the internet and email,” many commonly prescribed medications will be renamed in the coming months.
Diane Mandrill, Pfizer’s U.S. Director of Marketing, says the forthcoming changes are “absolutely necessary” and that they will allow the companies to use email again – something she says has been nearly impossible for several years.
“We can’t send an email about, say, Viagra to anybody else in the company, since the spam filter just kills it as soon as it’s sent. And if we want to get a message out to the public? Forget it! Might as well delete it before even sending it!”
“That’s why we’ve decided to change Viagra to V!@gr@ – the spam filters can’t recognize the different spelling, so the email message will go through fine. And, just to mix things up a bit, every few months we’ll be changing it again, to something like V|a_Gr@, or V1/@gr_a. Basically, we’re gonna outsmart these spam-catching programs at their own game.”
Another of Pfizer’s medications, Celebrex, will be rechristened Ce|`3brex, and their popular drug for hyperlipidemia, Lipitor, will be known in the near future as 1Ip!t0R.
The new names, says Mandrill, have the added advantage of being “much more interesting, and a lot more fun to pronounce.”
Other drug companies, long stymied by the same inability to send email messages about their products to colleagues, physicians, and patients, are following suit. Bayer’s Levitra will be renamed L3v|tr.a, and Merck’s Propecia will be renamed Pr0p.3cia.
Besides medication name changes, the companies will also be implementing system-wide policies on email content, says Merck spokesperson Chris Goode. “It’s going to be recommended that, if you’re referring to any medications at all, for example, you use m3dicat!|on or medic@t10n instead,” he says. “And if you’re sending a message about how much bigger your penis is, you probably should say B!gg3r P*3Ni5, or something like that.”
While the renaming of medications has been met with some resistance by some health professionals, who cite the potential confusion such changes could create, others see the changes as appropriate and overdue.
Dr. M05Es 3Kw0nw@
“My name used to be Dr. Moses Ekwonwa,” says Dr. M05Es 3Kw0nw@, a nephrologist who came to the U.S. from Nigeria a decade ago. “One day, I began to notice that people were sending me angry letters, filled with complaints. They were asking for money that they said I owed them, money I did not have. They insisted that I had promised them 35% of a fortune I had somewhere discovered, relating to a deceased businessman in my native country. Later I discovered that it was due to the internet, and that these people had been the victims of a terrible fraud. But, it became necessary for me to change my name, my phone number, my address. So I can understand why [the drug companies] are doing this.”
Ms. Mandrill says that Pfizer is taking the process of renaming its medications very seriously, and suggests that other changes may be in store.
“It might not even be Pfizer anymore,” she announced. “I mean, you could call it Pfizer, but you could also just call it P., or you could call it P. Fizzy, or even Pfizzy Cent”. She added that a new album and video are planned for late 2006.
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