Isis Pharmaceuticals Considers Name Change

Isis Pharmaceuticals

California biotech company Isis Pharmaceuticals may change its name following the deadly terror attacks in Paris last weekend.

Terrorists associated with the Islamic extremist group Islamic State (previously known as ISIS), left 129 people dead last Friday, and now the biotech company is considering a name change, writes Matt Egan for CNN Money.

Unfortunate name given development of terrorist group

The company originally took its name from an Egyptian goddess who is associated with good health, but the connotations have changed after the terror group rose to prominence following a string of attacks and military advances in Iraq and Syria. The company has since told CNN that it is considering changing its name.

Although no final decision has been made there have been discussions within the company regarding a new name. It is not yet known which alternative names have been discussed.

“Even though people know we’re not associated with the terrorist group, the name itself has so many negative connotations,” said D. Wade Walke, the company’s vice president for corporate communications and investor relations. “It’s obviously not getting better over time.”

The “awful tragedy” that killed so many people in Paris “weighs on us quite a bit,” he continued.

Shares in Isis fall 4% on Monday

Isis the company manufactures drugs for cancer, heart disease and neurological patients. CNN Money contacted the company last year to ask whether they would change their name, but executives responded that they felt no pressure to do so at the time.

The company said that its name did not present a problem due to the fact that it doesn’t sell directly to consumers and institutional investors had said that they had no problem with the name. Walke has now admitted that “subliminally it can’t help.”

Now it appears that the association has become too powerful, and the name may now be changed. The company may also change its stock ticker symbol, which is currently “ISIS.” Shares in the company dropped 4% on Monday, even though Wall Street as a whole experienced a broad rally.

There was no major news that could have explained the drop, but it is not clear whether the selloff was caused by the Paris terror attacks. Walke believes that the fall could be explained by an announcement from rival Clovis Oncology (CLVS). Shares in Clovis fell 70% after it announced that the FDA had asked for further data on its lead drug candidate, Rociletinib.

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About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at

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