If AI is the wave of the future, we must keep in mind the shortcomings: right now smart computer systems only consider the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drug naming.
In many ways, the pharmaceutical brand naming process is like an iceberg: most people only see the surface, which seems like endless possibilities of potential names like the ones they see on commercials. Looking at the process superficially, you can easily think that the majority of the brand naming process involves a select group of creative experts isolated in a room brainstorming name ideas. You may wonder, “Why couldn’t we employ AI (artificial intelligence) to quickly and efficiently create names instead?” Recently, there has been more talk about using an AI program that can generate hundreds of name candidates for a new pharmaceutical brand in a matter of seconds. But if AI is the wave of the future, we must keep in mind the shortcomings: right now smart computer systems only consider the tip of the iceberg.
The majority of the iceberg that rests below the surface embodies the pre-screening process of a name. While name creation represents a very crucial phase of the name development journey, without knowing the legal and regulatory criteria the name needs to pass to be viable, creative efforts can be a significant waste of time and resources. For example, if a pharmaceutical brand name candidate contains “vir,” it will get rejected since “vir” is a generic stem that signifies antivirals. There is also the potential for confusion with being too close to a drug already on the market; an option like Yorvim should be removed due to similarities with Yervoy. Professional naming experts are aware of these obstacles and know how to create options that meet the strategic needs of the product.
At Addison Whitney, we use our proprietary VETT™ method (which stands for Verified Evaluation of Trademarks and Taglines) to thoroughly pre-screen our name candidates and catch both regulatory and legal concerns. We go through multiple layers of screens to effectively evaluate our name candidates for viability. This screening method lowers the attrition rate and increases the number of high-quality name candidates that have a strong probability of approval. To arrive at a high-quality list of names that pass preliminary screens and sound intuitive, you need the human touch: full-time naming experts that have the experience to navigate around legal and regulatory risks while still employing thoughtful and strategic naming direction. The naming and pre-screen processes involve a lot of purposeful decision making, which is why human expertise is irreplaceable. Humans have the power to create, evaluate, and make recognizable connections that may take a machine longer to learn.
So where does AI fit in the name development process? One way AI can make it more efficient is by streamlining the layers of regulatory and legal screens. With the ability to retain, learn and build upon information, AI can become a powerful pre-screening tool that provides a more quantifiable evaluation of a name’s inherent risk. AI could also aid in the creative process in providing an assessment on how intuitive a name looks and sounds based on global standards of pronunciation. AI certainly can complement a naming expert’s work, but at the end of the day, human expertise is vital to the overall success of a pharmaceutical brand name.