Naming Strategies in the Cold&Flu Sector

cold and flu studyThe cold and flu season has officially begun. NOMEN Healthcare has examined the name strategies in the German Cold&Flu sector.

Indication-based names restricting brand expansions

Name creation in the healthcare sector is a rather difficult undertaking. The name needs to meet various regulatory requirements, and in most cases, it needs to address very different target groups (patients and healthcare professionals). To protect the brand legally and to differentiate from other pharmaceutical products on the market, combination products are often named by the indication “influenzal infection”, a common cold, as in Tamiflu by Roche Pharmaceuticals. In Germany, a common habit is to combine a hint to the indication with the manufacturer name as in the German brands Grippostad C by STADA or Boxagrippal by Boehringer Ingelheim (Grippe (de.) = influenza). The disadvantage of an indication based name: The limited scope by the content can restrict and even prevent a future brand expansion to other indications.

Structuring larger product portfolios

The American brand Vicks pursues a different strategy. Today Vicks is the top-selling brand in the cold&flu sector worldwide. In the course of the years Vicks developed a large portfolio of products that tackle cold&flu, including cough medicine, cold medicine, medicine to strengthen the body’s natural defences and remedies for dissolving mucus. Vicks segments the portfolio into products for the day and products for the night (NyQuil, DayQuil), helping the patients to get oriented.

Regulatory restrictions for descriptors

When it comes to marking product variants, the creative scope is slim. Descriptive addenda like “acute” are used. Some German examples are Cebion akut plus (to strengthen the immune system), Aspirin Akut by Bayer HealthCare (to treat headaches and migraines), ACC Akut (cough medicine). In all these cases brand protection is given thanks to the umbrella brand. The descriptor needs to be kept free for the trade. However, when it comes to association clashes by the patients, the descriptor causes a problem. “Acute” suggests a fast relief of symptoms. For this reason, the authorities like the American Food and Drug Administration FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the German authority BfArM pay special attention to the use of descriptors. A landmark decision was made when in 2010 the German BfArM objected a remedy for heartburn by Hexal. The market leader added the addendum “akut” (dt.) to the brand name “Omep” to better differentiate itself from competitors. Hexal argued that “akut” refers to the disease “heartburn”. BfArM, however, was convinced that patients associate a quick effect with “akut”. Hexal went to the administrative court of appeal in the German Bundesland North Rhine-Westphalia – and lost (AZ. 13 A 718/13 – OVG NRW).

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