PROVIDENCE—“One key question we asked the execs at Pfizer was, What the hell is up with your drug names?” says Ronald Baker, Director of Marketing at PR firm G.G. Smeagle. “I mean, Trumenba, Lipitor, Celebrex – most of those medications sound worse than the disorders they’re trying to cure. You may as well call your drug Meningitis.”
Big Pharma is all too aware that cannabis is eating their lunch. As the legalization of marijuana makes its steady march across the U.S., pharmaceutical companies continue to experience plummeting profits amid a competitive drug field. Recent polls have determined that of patients who use cannabis for ailments such as MS, seizure disorders, and Crohn’s Disease, over 80% greatly reduce – or in some cases cease altogether – taking costly prescription medicines. The result is billions of dollars off the bottom line for drug barons already struggling with challenges ranging from patent expirations to events like the recent EpiPen debacle.
In an unexpected turn of events that sees Big Pharma taking its lead from medical marijuana, a few of the top five drug makers – including Pfizer, Novartis, and Merck – are reportedly keen to understand the branding and nomenclature behind popular cannabis strains like Larry OG, Oaktown Crippler, and Girl Scout Cookies. Unveiling a new marketing strategy, the drug behemoths have enlisted aid from Baker with Brooklyn advertising firm G.G. Smeagle PR.
Baker says the firm took a long, hard look at the industries that are most kicking the asses out of Big Pharma’s bottom line, and identified marijuana as the greatest culprit. “So we said, OK, let’s rename their most popular pills and see what happens.”
Marketing specialist Doug Jarrod of Merck believes the new direction will have far-reaching effects and give consumers a sense of what their meds are for, while also making the names less ‘science-y.’
“In 2017, be prepared to find some of your favorite medications renamed to sound more…approachable,” says Baker. “For starters Xanax will be changed to the much more pleasant Daze Haze. Ritalin will soon be called The Crapshoot. And Viagra will be renamed Dick’s Big Bud.”
“We’ve been on a crash course for years now but we’re turning the ship around,” says Jarrod. “We know our pills are still way better than their silly weed, we just need to make it fun too.”