A Picture is worth a thousand words… Why Memorable Names are preferred by Pharmacists

by Philip Schneider, MS FASHP
Associate Dean, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
ASBM Advisory Board Chair

Yesterday, I was in Philadelphia with a group of about 50 pharmacy students and faculty speaking about biosimilars and the role they do play and will play in our healthcare system.  I explained the differences between a biosimilar and a generic, and why it is important to understand these differences as we develop policy around the substitution and naming of biosimilars.  After discussing the FDA’s evolving policy towards naming, I asked those in the room whether it made sense to have a memorable name as was used for the first biosimilar approved by the FDA (zarxio-sndz) with the suffix representing the manufacturer’s name, or a random name like that used for the second FDA approved biosimilar (infliximab-dyyb).  Not surprisingly, a single hand went up supporting the random approach.  I have conducted similar educational forums on biosimilars over the past few years and have consistently seen that pharmacists overwhelmingly support memorable names.  If we could just get that message to the organizations that represent pharmacists, we would all be better served.