New year, new names for BIO and Canada's pharma trade association, and more

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2016

'Innovation' is the recurring theme

Pharma brand managers spend a lot of time thinking about how to name their products and how to cement a drug’s identify in customers’ minds (when you hear “purple pill,” you think “Nexium”); a similar process goes on with trade associations and other organizations that want to ensure a high profile in public and policy awareness. With this year’s calendar turning over, a noticeable number of such organizations are rebranding:

BIO, formerly the Biotechnology Industry Assn., is now the BIO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization. It’s hard to pin down a motivation for this, but it’s worth noting that the news release from BIO mentioned “scientists” (as distinct from “entrepreneurs”) and “academic institutions” (as distinct from “biotechnology companies”), perhaps in a bid to make the organization seem more hospitable to academics and the nonprofit world. “This name change does not alter our mission or the value we deliver,” said BIO president, Jim Greenwood, in a statement. “We are better describing what our members do, who they are and how they think.”

Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, the equivalent of the US’ Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn., will henceforth be known as Innovative Medicines Canada. Not wanting to go out to the world as “CRBPC,” under its former name the organization used the nonobvious acronym “Rx&D;” maybe now it will simply be “IMC.” The emphasis on “research” in the former name, and “innovation” in the current name is, of course, to differentiate IMC’s members from generics manufacturers; however, under that logic one wonders where biosimilars manufacturers will fit in at IMC or, for that matter, at BIO.

Meanwhile, on a less grand scale of conceptual awareness, the Minneapolis, MN trade association, LifeScience Alley, is reverting back to an older name: Medical Alley Assn. Although its press release mentions “medical device, biopharmaceutical, diagnostics and digital health” as the association’s constituency, going away from “life science” and to “medical” seems to be a clear gesture toward the medical device industry, for which the Minneapolis area is well known. The Medical Alley Assn. is nothing if not modest: it consider itself “the world's strongest health technology community.”

On the more prosaic company-branding front, it’s time to say goodbye to Exel, a major third-party logistics provider (3PL) to healthcare, which will now be known as “DHL Supply Chain.” DHL has owned Exel for many years and had unified the naming outside the US but kept the Exel brand inside the US until now. DHL is generally regarded as the largest provider of global logistics to the life sciences industry. At least DHL was not driven to this rebranding the way one biopharma company was last month, when the former Isis Pharmaceuticals (Carlsbad, CA) changed its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals. "We decided to change our company name because, when people see or hear our name, we want them to think about the life-saving medicines we are developing," said Lynne Parshall, COO, in a carefully worded press release.

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