Isis Pharmaceuticals Changes Name To Ionis Pharmaceuticals For Some Reason

This is Isis, not ISIS. (Paul Jones)

This is Isis, not ISIS. (Paul Jones)

It’s a problem when you choose a name for your company that, a few decades later, comes to mean something else entirely. The company Isis Pharmaceuticals chose the name of an Egyptian goddess associated with good health, only to find that the public’s knowledge of Egyptian mythology is weak, and that most people associate the name with a jihadist militant group.

The name ISIS is already associated with Islamist terrorism in the public imagination, so the company decided to look for a new name. Ionis has the key advantages of still starting with “I” and ending with “S,” and not being the name of any of the participants in the civil war in Syria.

The company’s founder and CEO said that the name change came because she was tired of addressing the name issue in interviews and everyday conversations.

“To spend any time during a four-minute TV interview, for example, discussing our name,” he told Forbes, “rather than focusing on how exciting things are at Isis today with three drugs finishing Phase 3 development and a pipeline of 40 drugs, just makes no sense.”

The name change also means that the company gets the cool stock ticker symbol IONS, so that’s a bonus to what must be a very annoying situation.

Drug company opts for new name, dropping ISIS [CBS News]

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