Home Expert Gary Kohls, M.D. Big Pharma is Running Out of Ideas (for Names for Their New...

Big Pharma is Running Out of Ideas (for Names for Their New Drugs)

I suspect that the invented names will strike many as being laughable. I know that a lot of stand-up comics could have a ball poking fun at them. As humorous as this topic could be, one must acknowledge that these new drugs are as potentially dangerous as those that preceded them.

How rapidly can you read the list below? It is an exercise like having to read OUT LOUD in front of your congregation, the geneology of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew. You better be sure to practice if it’s your turn to stumble through that gospel passage some Advent season.

Actemira, Ampyra, Bepreve, Beyaz, Cayston, Dulera, Exalgo, Fanapt, Gilenya, Iprivask, Jalyn, Krystexxa, Livalo, Lysteda, Manveo, Natazia, Dravig, Pradaxa, Prolia, Qutenza, Rybix, Saphris, Tekamio,Tribenzor, Vitativ, Victoza, Vimovo, Xifaxan, Zenpep, Byclara.

And Ampyra begat Beyaz and Beyaz begat Jehosaphat

I wonder if some drug company of the future might, out of desperation, resort to going to the gospel of Matthew and misappropriating the names of Jesus’ ancestors for their new products. Would those names be any less meaningful that the list above? Would anybody be suspicious of swallowing pills with names like Zerah, Tamir, Perez, Hezron, Amminadab, Nahshon, Rehobaom, Abijah, Jehosaphat? You get the point.

Listen in and join Dr. Gary Kohls on a recent radio interview on the topic of BIG PHARMA – Lyrica, Cialis, Eliquis, Latuda, Celebrex, Chantix, America is on Drugs!

I suspect that the invented names will strike many as being laughable. I know that a lot of stand-up comics could have a ball poking fun at them. As humorous as this topic could be, one must acknowledge that these new drugs are as potentially dangerous as those that preceded them. I have read in the past that as many as 10% of new drugs are discovered to have such serious and unforeseen adverse effects that their marketing status with the FDA was adversely affected (including withdrawal from the market.)

In the case of psych drugs, I know that they are only tested in humans for 6-8 weeks before approval for marketing is granted.

The long-term safety (adverse effects) and long-term efficacy of psych drugs cannot really have been investigated thoroughly. E know for sure that there is no pre-marketing investigation of drug-drug interactions. That important information is only acquired through post-marketing information – data that is supposed to be reported to the FDA by physicians or patients (information that is only rarely submitted). I suspect that the same reality exists with non-psychotropic drugs.

The magazine that the list of new drugs appeared in is called MPR (the Monthly Prescribing Reference). It is a small Reader’s Digest-sized, easily-referenced magazine that most physicians in the US receive free of charge, twelve times a year. MPR (not to be confused with Minnesota Public Radio) is a BigPharma bought-and-paid-for publication consisting of several hundred pages of heavily abbreviated (and grossly insufficient, it must be emphasized) drug information that ”is intended solely for use by the medical profession”. The publishers explicitly state that the magazine “IS NOT INTENDED FOR LAY READERS”.

Is condensed drug prescribing information dangerous?

Interestingly, MPR’s publishers state that “only the current issue [of MPR] should be used” and they admit that “detailed explanations about certain aspects of drugs commonly found in advertising are omitted or condensed.” MPR also states that “the physician must be familiar with the full product labeling, provided by the manufacturer or distributor of the drug, of every product he or she prescribes, as well as the relevant medical literature.” In other words, the information is actually insufficient for clinical use.

The magazine is about 50% glossy-print drug advertising and, despite the fact that the magazine’s target audience is the medical profession, it usually contains the same dumbed-down, sometimes pseudoscientific and often totally irrelevant Madison Avenue graphics and information that are commonly used to appeal to the unaware and brain-washable readers of popular lay magazines or viewers of prime-time TV advertising.

Following the money

MPR states that it is available on a paid subscription basis in the USA for $98 per annum ($197 for foreign subscribers), but you can bet that their paid subscriber list is pretty short. I myself have been getting it free and unsolicited for most of the 25 years of its existence. And I know of no physicians who are paying for their subscriptions. (Which is equally true for many of the general-purpose (non-specialty) and freebie medical “journals” that are also largely funded by the drug and medical device industries.)

Incidentally, the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) is a 3,643 pages long publication of trusted drug information that has no advertising in it. It is the “bible” for prescription drug information. It is published in exceedingly fine print, with up to 10 pages of information on many of its drugs, which is far too much information to read when a physician is trying to efficiently decide on what medication to prescribe a given patient.

It should be patently obvious that BigPharma is desperately scraping the bottom of their neologism barrel That should alert those of us who might eventually be victimized by the all-powerful megacorporations that rule our media, society, government and even our medical schools. Physicians and nurses will certainly have trouble remembering (not to mention pronouncing) the names of those new drugs, drugs that have now been added to the thousands of older ones, many of which have equally preposterous names. Teflaro, Latuda, Vyvanse, Abilify, Lunesta and Cymbalta come to mind.

I also pity the poor pharmacists and pharmacy assistants who will be trying to de-cipher the sometimes illegible hand-written prescriptions that are hastily written by over-busy, double-booked physicians). Prescription interpreting errors are a serious matter.

This drug-naming issue shows us that the hundreds of pharmaceutical companies (194 drug companies are listed on page 369 of the December issue of MPR), over the several generations of their growing power and influence, have had to establish expensive marketing departments who are given the responsibility of naming their products. I can only imagine their embarrassment in coming up with the above list!

Brand names may be confusing but generic and chemical names are worse

These brand names of these new drugs may seem stupid, but the generic names are even more worse. For example, the generic name for Actemira is tocilizumabAmpyra is dalfampridine. Bepreve is bepotastine besilateKrystexxa is Pegloticase and Pradaxa is Dubigatran etixilate mesylate. And the list goes on and on.

Research chemists who work deep in the large bowels of BigPharma’s facilities are the ones who synthesized these new chemicals (most of which are lethal at certain doses or when taken in combination with certain other drugs). The chemical names are even more incomprehensible than the generic.

Equally seriously, in my opinion, is the fact that most of the drug advertising that is intended for physicians no longer includes the molecular structures of the drugs. The two exceptions are the cumbersome and lengthy PDR (the 2010 edition is 3,643 pages long) and the product information inserts that the “consumers” (more accurately called “patients”) get with their prescriptions (and which clinics get with the free samples). The fine print often can’t be read by people over the age of 50.

Most clinicians, who have been separated for years from their undergraduate biochemistry courses and medical school pharmacology knowledge logically can not find the time or energy to master any of this confusing nomenclature, much less the molecular science, and so they rely on the quickly relayed information from the ubiquitous and seductive pharmaceutical company salespersons (half of whom are attractive and smiley-faced females!). They are the ones who bring the free drug samples, the pens, pizzas and Post-it Notes that favorably influence prescribing habits.

As opposed to the era when I started practicing medicine, most of the advertising that physicians now rely on has no molecular structures diagramed in them and there is often no chemical nomenclature listed. More seriously, I have noticed nothing substantial about the “mechanism of action” of many drugs. I suppose that having to admit again and again that the drug companies have little or no understanding of the mechanisms of action of their drugs was too embarrassing, and so the industry has decided to ignore that seemingly essential part – with no obvious objection from providers.

Let the buyer beware vs “primum non nocere”

So – let the consumer beware but let the prescribers be cautious and well-informed. Every “consumer” of synthetic drugs involved in America’s dysfunctional health care (non-)system must start becoming deeply involved in their own knowledge. The must learn about the huge world of healthful non-drug preventive care (especially about healing nutrition) and stop being unconditionally obedient to the authority of megacorporations. It is far too easy to fall for what the advertising geniuses on Madison Avenue are selling. BigPharma is concerned mainly about next quarter’s profits and the price of their stocks. That reality will trump – every time – any transient and aberrant altruistic feelings that immediately get suppressed in the rarefied air of their corporate boardroom bunkers.

After all, BigPharma’s stated mission (as is true of all megacorporations) is not “First do no Harm” (the oath physicians take when they receive their licenses to practice medicine). Their mission is to maximize shareholder value, which means “to make as much money as possible”, no matter what (as long as their in-house gaggle of lawyers can successfully intimidate plaintiffs or defend the corporation against the burgeoning numbers of lawsuits that are there because of the fast-tracking of patented, ingestible, and often very hazardous “chemicals in a capsule” that are so cavalierly over-prescribed..

I often advised my patients to “eat as organic as you can afford, as vegetarian as you can tolerate but be sure to get as much high quality protein as you can.“ I also advised my patients to read the labels before purchasing their food products. I would tell them: “Don’t eat the food if there are a lot of preservatives in it. Don’t eat the food if there are synthetic chemicals in it. Don’t eat the food if there is something in there that wasn’t there 100 years ago. And don’t eat the food if you can’t pronounce the words on the label.”

Perhaps the same advice should apply to swallowing drugs.