Biogen's Alzheimer's drug isn't FDA-approved yet, but it may already have a name

Biogen has been working on multiple Alzheimer's treatments with Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co. Ltd. Here, a 3D model central nervous system cells is displayed at Eisai's Cambridge offices. DEREK KOUYOUMJIAN

Life Sciences Reporter, Boston Business Journal
By: Allis DeAngelis
August 10, 2020, 06:01 AM

As it awaits the FDA's verdict on its potential blockbuster Alzheimer's drug, Biogen has filed a trademark application for what appears to be a name and logo with links to the treatment it's developing.

Biogen (Nasdaq: BIIB) asked the FDA last month to approve its potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, known generically as aducanumab. The drug, which targets the sticky plaque known as amyloid that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s survivors, has been developed in partnership with Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co. Ltd. If approved, the drug would be the first entirely new treatment for the neurological disease since 2003.

Meanwhile, Biogen may have picked an oncial name for the drug: Aduhelm.

Biogen recently filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Once to claim the name "Aduhelm" for the “pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of neurological disorders… (and) the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.” The application also included a blue, orange and green logo.

A company spokesperson verified Biogen had filed that application, but declined to answer further questions.

The patent and trademark office has not yet approved the trademark.

The Cambridge-based biotech originally filed to trademark the name along with a handful of other potential Alzheimer’s drug names in early and mid-2018. Aduhelm is the only of those names to advance further and one of the few trademarks Biogen has applied for this year. (The others are for ALS, ophthalmology and health IT products.)

What's in a name?

Consultants like the Brand Institute will usually begin brainstorming drug names around the time Phase 2 trials are concluding, according to Scott Piergrossi, president of communications at the firm.

Brand Institute has helped name over 75 percent of commercial drugs, including Biogen products Imraldi, Tecfidera and Tysabri. Piergrossi declined to say whether the firm is working on the aducanumab launch.

The commercial name for a medication will often bear some resemblance to the generic name used during the later stages of testing. The common thread is usually the beginning prefix of the name —the “adu," in Biogen’s case — due to FDA requirements, according to Piergrossi. Drugmakers may also choose to reference a drug’s traits or benefits. The name of Janssen’s long-standing Alzheimer’s drug, Reminyl, is often thought to reference the word “remember," Piergrossi noted.  "We're also seeing a trend of double consonants or vowels right now, like Alnylam's drug, Givlaari," headded. Whatever the name, it must be approved by the FDA before or when the drug is greenlit.  The FDA approved 48 new drugs in 2019 and 59 the year before. So far, the agency has allowed 30 new drugs to hit the market in 2020.

The agency has set a March 7,2021 deadline to approve or reject aducanumab.

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