Biotech firm Isis Pharma changes name to avoid unwanted association

A screengrab of Isis Pharmaceuticals' website on Dec 19 showing an announcement of the name change.
A screengrab of Isis Pharmaceuticals' website on Dec 19 showing an announcement of the name change. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ISISPHARM.COM

NEW YORK (REUTERS, AFP) - After deliberating for most of the year, Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Friday (Dec 18) it would change its name to avoid being confused with the Islamist militant group known as ISIS.

The biotechnology company said it would be called Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc from Dec. 22 and also changed its stock exchange ticker symbol to "IONS" from "ISIS".

"It's been an ongoing discussion for most of this year", Chief Business Officer Sarah Boyce told Reuters.

"When you talk about the company you want people to immediately think about the incredible work you're doing to deliver transformational drugs to patients ... not as an unfortunate namesake."

 

The Carlsbad, California-based company's stock dropped about 4 per cent on the first trading day after the Paris attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.

The drugmaker - named after the Egyptian goddess Isis, who was revered as a protector and healer - has been around for more than a quarter century.

Today it is a US$7 billion (S$10 billion) company with one cholesterol drug on the market and treatments in development for a plethora of diseases, including cancer and heart conditions.