After resistance, U.S.-based Isis Pharmaceuticals changes its name

NEW YORK -- Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., which shares a name with the Islamic State extremist group, has changed its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals after resisting to do so for some time.

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The developer's old name was a distraction, said Dr. Amy Williford, the company's associate director of corporate communications. Every time the Islamic State was in the news, the drugmaker would be flooded with questions from the media, she said. Islamic State, commonly known by its acronym ISIS, has claimed responsibility for several violent attacks around the world, including the gun and bomb massacres in Paris last month.

"We wanted to have a good feeling associated with the company," said Williford.

Employee safety was also a concern. "Our scientists travel all over the world," she said

The decision is a reversal for the company, which said last year that it would not change its name. "They can easily distinguish between us and a Middle Eastern terrorist group," Vice-President of Corporate Communications D. Wade Walke told The Associated Press at the time.

On Friday, Williford said that the company discussed a name change for about two years.

"This is a long process," she said, adding that it needed to change contracts and legal documents.

Next week, the company will also switch its ticker symbol to "IONS" from "ISIS." It will also have a new website, at ionispharma.com, and Ionis will have a slightly different pyramid logo.

When it was founded nearly 30 years ago, the company named itself after Egyptian healing goddess Isis. The Carlsbad, California-based company develops drugs for rare diseases.



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