Source: New York Times
Date: 7 March 2004

My Drug Study Sounds Catchier Than Yours


DRUG companies have struggled for years to find just the right name for each of their new drugs, hiring consultants and doing market research to achieve the desired effect - and sales.

Scientific studies, on the other hand, were usually given dry acronyms, like Merck's Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study, or 4S, published a decade ago. But times have changed. Bristol-Myers Squibb called its recent study of its lipid-lowering drug pravastatin, or Pravachol, "Cholesterol and Recurrent Events," a name chosen because it makes for a catchy acronym: "Care."

And Pfizer, maker of atrovastatin, or Lipitor, has named a study "Atrovastatin Versus Revascularization Treatments," which nicely reduces to "Avert" - the better to avert heart disease.

Need a Miracle? Try "Miracl" (Myocardial Ischemia Reduction with Aggressive Cholesterol Lowering), another Lipitor study.

One reason the drug companies are doing this is to entice patients to participate in their studies. Also, without memorable names, says Dr. Gary Palmer, Pfizer's vice president of cardiovascular products in the United States, "it becomes very hard to keep track of which study is which."

But now it seems the drug companies have extended their competition into the arena of study names.

Pfizer recently tried to demonstrate that Lipitor was better at slowing the progress of coronary artery disease than Bristol-Myers Squibb's Pravachol, and named its study "Reversal," for Reversing Atherosclerosis with Aggressive Lipid Lowering.

But Bristol-Myers struck back with its own comparative study, called "Prove It," which the company hoped would show Pravachol was just as good as Lipitor.

The results will be released tomorrow.

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