#FierceMadness: Big brands and underdogs—Onpattro and Jeuveau included—make the Sweet 16 cut

FierceMadness 2020 bracket
While Big Pharma brands from AbbVie, Novartis and Pfizer remain in #FierceMadness, so do Vertex, BeiGene and Jazz drugs. (Carly Helfand)

FierceMadness is back with eight more matchups today with the field narrowed down to the Sweet 16. And there are plenty of underdogs left standing, with drugs from both big and small pharma companies still in the hunt. Big winners from Big Pharma include AbbVie's Skyrizi and Roche's Xofluza, while smaller pharma brands still vying for the top title include Alnylam's Onpattro and Evolus' Jeuveau. 

Recapping the last round's action in the Infectious Diseases/Primary Care division, Takeda's Motegrity trounced Gilead's Biktarvy and Amgen's Evenity took out AbbVie's Rinvoq. The integrity-like name from Takeda held strong for voters, although other associations, like “scooter-share company,” also won Motegrity votes.

In the same division, Roche's Xofluza topped Merck's Ervebo, with voters favoring the flu treatment with comments that indicated we can’t escape COVID-19 even in #FierceMadness-land. One commenter spoke for many, writing, “In the current moment, anything with ‘flu’ in the name must be a ready favorite.” In the fourth matchup, a bruiser, Skyrizi took down fellow AbbVie drug Orilissa, with many “sky” and letter “z” fans pushing for the winner. Outside-the-box comment on the winner? “Definitely sounds like a lost member of the Wu-Tang Clan.”

In the Rare Diseases/Miscellaneous category, Onpattro moved on with an easy win over AkaRx and Dova's Doptelet. The paternal-sounding name won with voters who said it reminded them of a “nickname for a clergyman” and an “Italian Renaissance painting technique.”

Other contests in the division saw Vertex's Trikafta triumph over Pfizer's Vyndaqel and Alexion's Ultomiris top Novartis' Adakveo. In the battle of the vowels, as one voter put it, Jeuveau narrowly beat Novartis' Beovu. And Jeuveau not only won the vowels race for some, but it also pleased the Francophiles, who commented, “Sounds like a great French tennis player” and “French honors student ... sounds lovely!”

In Oncology, BeiGene's Brukinsa posted a win over Bayer's Nubeqa—a surprise, considering the general love that any "q" names seem to get. In this case, though, Brukinsa won partly because of the BTK inhibitor connection, but also with commenters like this one, who voted, “Birkenstock anyone—or am I giving away my age?” (Note to that voter: Check your Insta. Birks are back, and all the rage with teenage girls.)

Also in the cancer category, Johnson & Johnson's Balversa beat Daiichi Sankyo's Turalio, while Pfizer's Talzenna topped fellow Pfizer drug Lorbrena. In the battle for the fourth Oncology spot, Sanofi and Regeneron's Libtayo rolled handily over AstraZeneca's Enhertu, with lots of fans pushing for the liberty angle. A departure take for the winner, however, likened Libtayo to a "book-of-the-month subscription service.”

In the CNS category, Aimovig just nudged Novartis' Mayzent for the win, although many commenters pulled for the z-power with pithy comments like “Mayzinga!” (Behind the scenes, we will likely be missing the Mayzent comments most going forward.)

Meanwhile, Jazz's Sunosi trounced GW Pharma's Epidiolex in a no-contest win, with most commenters keen on the “sun” connections. One interesting take on that: “Sunosi: O, I si the sun!”  J&J's Spravato also dominated Eli Lilly's Reyvow, although at least one voter was torn: “Jersey shore versus weird vegetable, tough call."

Finally, Novartis' Zolgensma continued its roll through as a play-in, topping Eisai's Dayvigo with several voters applauding the name correlation to the treatment with comments such as, “One gene for SMA!”

The next round of voting begins now, and it's a quick two-day turnaround, so vote and comment here through 10 p.m. on Tuesday. Check back in Wednesday to see which drug names made it to the Elite 8!

Round 3 (Vote here)

Infectious Disease/Primary Care 

(1) Motegrity vs. (13) Evenity

Maker: Takeda
Indication: chronic idiopathic constipation
Sounds like: more righteous than you

Maker: Amgen
Indication: osteoporosis
Sounds like: work-life balance in perfect alignment

(3) Xofluza vs. vs. (10) Skyrizi

Maker: Roche/Genentech
Indication: flu 
Sounds like: too many hug and kiss marks on a card

Maker: AbbVie
Indication: plaque psoriasis
Sounds like: a Scottish island castle

Rare disease/Miscellaneous

(9) Onpattro vs. (13) Trikafta 

Maker: Alnylam
Indication: polyneuropathy from hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis
Sounds like: dad’s best friend

Maker: Vertex
Indication: cystic fibrosis
Sounds like: three-meat Lebanese kebab

(6) Ultomiris vs. (10) Jeuveau

Maker: Alexion
Indication: paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
Sounds like: a cosmetic brand

Maker: Evolus
Indication: aesthetics filler, frown lines
Sounds like: Inspector Clouseau’s sidekick


(9) Brukinsa vs. (13) Balversa 

Maker: BeiGene
Indication: mantle cell lymphoma
Sounds like: the bro posse at a hipster consulting firm

Maker: J&J/Janssen
Indication: urothelial cancer
Sounds like: a semi-pro European basketball team

(11) Talzenna vs. (7) Libtayo

Maker: Pfizer
Indication: breast cancer
Sounds like: a hip new Thai restaurant

Maker: Sanofi and Regeneron
Indication: cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Sounds like: condiment combo for Freedom Fries


(13) Sunosi vs. (16) Aimovig

Maker: Jazz Pharmaceutical
Indication: narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea
Sounds like: incredibly curious 

Maker: Amgen
Indication: migraine
Sounds like: an investment hedge fund

(11) Spravato vs. (15) Zolgensma

Maker: J&J Janssen     
Indication: treatment-resistant depression
Sounds like: a newly discovered type of mushroom

Maker: Novartis
Indication: spinal muscular atrophy
Sounds like: the mind reader act at the county fair