April 17, 2008
Pharmaceutical Product Naming – Not as Plain as the Nose on Your Face
The FDA just announced approval for Alcon’s new nasal spray, Patanase (generic name, olopatadine hydrochloride), expected to be on the market next month.
This prescription drug for allergic conditions will join the "Allergy Arms Race" alongside blockbusters like Flonase and Veramyst (generic name, fluticasone).
The best thing about this name is that it leaves no doubt as to where the drug should be applied. Like Flonase, the nasal root (nasus in Latin) is almost universally understood as nose.
The PATA prefix, however, is harder to explain.
Obviously, Alcon’s brand architecture includes several other allergy drugs that begin with the PATA prefix, but all of these are for ocular allergies, and each is affixed to a semantically distinct suffix
And it’s anybody’s guess as to why Alcon connected with the PATA prefix to begin with. PATA has no intuitive meaning in the major European languages. If anything, it’s close to the Greek/Latin root for father (Pater) - yet it’s hard to believe that Father Nose, Father Day or Father Next is what Alcon had in mind.
Further, the root, PATA, in Sanskrit means a woven piece of cloth or even a tapestry/painting. But Painting Nose and Painting Next are semantically puzzling concepts for a drug as well.
In Zulu, the word PATA when repeated as PATA PATA is slang for sexual intercourse. This too is probably not Alcon’s intended meaning.
There is, however, a Sanskit word, PATTAN, which means port. So, potentially, Patanase means Nose Port.
Closer to home, there is a chance that PATA refers to the Anglo Norman word, Patch. As in Nose Repair. But this might be taking things too far, since in the early trials of Patanase, the incidence of epitaxis (bloody nose) was significantly high.
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