'V' and 'O' the most common first and last letters of drug brands in 2022, but diversity reigns in new names

There were 37 new FDA approved drug names in 2022, and the Brand Institute (BI), a leading company that names drugs for biopharma clients, has seen a pattern emerge.

Taking a deep dive across those names, the BI found that 13% of name candidates started with the letter "V."

And while for many years the letter "A" has been what the BI calls a “pharmaceutical staple,” the leading suffix letter last year was "O," which was the final letter for 27% of drugs that nabbed an FDA green light.

CTI Pharma’s Vonjo, approved last year for a rare bone marrow disease, sums up this pattern neatly with both the beginning V and ending O and was also the shortest name of 2022. Also hitting this trend was Roche/Genentech's eye disease drug Vabysmo. 

But in general, “names varied in style and length overall,” explained Alexa Lash, Brand Institute's senior vice president of creative nomenclature, in a release. She said this is “a clear sign” that naming new meds “remains diverse and ever-changing.”

And that means “that there may be new letters that take center stage this year,” she adds, and comes after the first approval of 2023, which was the Scrabble nightmare Leqembi, Eisai and Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug.  

Given how different that name is, Lash said she “can't wait to see what patterns emerge this year.”