Do’s and Don’ts for Global Pharma Naming

During the early phases of a brand naming project, there should be many key strategic conversations—one of which being the potential for the name to exist globally. There are obvious pros to having a single brand name marketed globally, but is it worth the challenge?

First, let’s examine why derivations or different brand names for the same product often co-exist. The main reason is that names must undergo review and approval from each regulatory authority (e.g., the FDA, EMA, Health Canada) separately. Each has a unique process and timelines that are applied to proprietary name review. This means that you must have a high confidence level that all agencies will approve your most preferred name. It is also imperative that you have a contingency plan in the event that you cannot gain approval from the various regulatory authorities on your preferred name. Having at least 2-3 alternate names that are ready for submission should be accounted for during the brand naming process.

Another scenario that may facilitate the need for a different brand name by geography would be when the geographic commercialization rights belong to a different partner sponsor in a collaboration agreement.

Now, let’s look at the reverse side. From a global harmonization perspective, fewer brand names marketed worldwide minimize confusion both internally and externally. Furthermore, commercialization teams won’t have to fight for resources.

Despite the inherent challenges of securing a global brand, a thorough name development and screening process will make it achievable. Here is a quick checklist of do’s and don’ts when one global brand name is desired:

  1. Identify and prioritize the regions where the product will be commercially available
  2. Select which agency to submit to first (The EMA will review 2 names at the same time while the FDA and Health Canada will focus the review on one name at a time)
  3. Conduct name safety testing that will provide safety data from all geographies for commercialization
  4. Identify top brand name candidates for trademark searches
  5. Prioritize the list of names for submission
  6. If you receive a rejection from one agency, consider re-crafting a close alternative rather than an entirely new name to help support a global brand naming strategy

In summary, you should decide whether the benefit of attaining a single name globally is a good fit for your commercialization strategy—based on your timeline, global audiences, resources, and budget.  If the answer is yes, make sure you’re taking the right steps to achieve approval. Don’t worry; your brand naming and safety testing partner should always be guiding your team with these critical, strategic considerations so that you succeed in all of your brand naming goals. If not, let’s talk.