Friday, 15 Nov 2019

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It's All in the Name

I got onto flight #610 from Atlanta to Dallas the other day and was greeted by a flight attendant in first class. His name was Jesus.

Not the “hey-sus” pronunciation. His was the original “Je-sus” pronunciation. Jesus was a young affable Caucasian dude who was the flight attendant assigned to my cabin. He simply said, “That’s my name and you can imagine how it’s gone for the past 25 years.”

Yes I could imagine the range of comments and cracks he must’ve received in high school, college and airline boot camp. The whole flight, I did all I could to engage him. “Yes Jesus”. “Thank you Jesus”. “Jesus can I have some more peanuts”. I even threw in an “Amen Jesus” and made a comment about the Hail Mary that was not well received.

This has to be the world's best first name. Think about it, there isn’t a father out there who would forbid his daughter from dating a boy named Jesus. Father wouldn't dare yell if Jesus brought her home after curfew. And, no policeman is going to give Jesus a ticket for speeding.

Imagine if Jesus was a doctor. There wouldn’t be any second guessing, adherence would skyrocket, and I’m sure side effect rates would decline. After all, Jesus wouldn’t prescribe a biologic that would hurt me, right? I think. Dr. Jesus would do very well for himself.

I can't come up with a name that competes with Jesus, at least as far as implicit trust, acceptance, loyalty, etc. On the other hand there are those curious or humorous physician names that just shouldn’t be; or that come with built-in regrets. Sorry, I don’t mean to offend any of my brethren, but names like Dr. Payne, Dr. Slaughter and Dr. Moneymaker are not off to a good start with their patients. Inevitably, they will get that speeding ticket, even if they have MD license plates.

But it’s not just people names; drug names are equally interesting in their likability ratings. Prior to approval, drugs have generic names that few can spell and most cannot pronounce. Names like idarucizumab and ixekizumab are problematic. No one doubts the veracity or complexity of my fictional biologic, dopeyumemab.

When a new drug is approved and headed for launch, the pharmaceutical company will spend tons of dollars on marketing research and a drug name that is memorable and has a positive vibe about it. “Vioxx” was a great name, until it was dragged through the mud by the FDA, lawyers, plaintiffs and cardiologists.

And what’s up with biosimilar naming? These have to be modified from the original generic name, and now have a wheels-off suffix stuck on the end. For example:

  • Erelzi (is etanercept-szzs)
  • Inflectra (is infliximab-dyyb)
  • Amjevita (is adalimumab-atto)

Since we are on biosimilars, what kind of emotion, feeling or confidence do these crazy new biosimilar names evoke?

In my opinion “Erelzi” is odd to pronounce, plus I thought it might be what you would call a wrongful left turn in New Jersey. “Amjevita” sounds like a vegetarian spread for the gluten-free. And “Inflectra” sounds like the go-to, transformer toy of the holiday season. (Now you know why I am not invited to do marketing surveys or focus groups anymore.)

My name, “Cush” may be simple, but it’s a potential time bomb for patients and mispronouncers. I’ve been called Doctor many times; but I’ve also been called Dr. Crush, Lush, Gush, Tush, Crash, and Cash.

Maybe this is why I’m so impressed with the name Jesus.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject
Dr. Cush is the Director of Clinical Rheumatology at the Baylor Research Institute and a Professor of Medicine and Rheumatology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. He a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Dr. Cush is the Executive Editor of and also Co-Edits the online textbook 
Dr. Cush's research and interests include novel drug development, rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, drug safety, pregnancy and Still's disease/autoinflammatory syndromes. He has published over 140 articles and 2 books in rheumatology.
He can be followed on twitter: @RheumNow.

Rheumatologists' Comments

You're killing me. Just flew in from Washington and boy are my arms tired! Help me Jesus!
We used to sing "Help me Rhonda" its " Help me Jesus"!
You should try Moses.
Can't forget Pattti Smith's lyrics: "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine"
Reminds me of this bit from a comedian who won't be named: It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to fifteen, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. “Dammit, will you stop all that noise?” And, “Jesus Christ, sit down!” One day, I’m out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, “Dammit will you get back in here!” I said, “Dad, I’m Jesus Christ!”
I know the bit and movie called "Bill Cosby" himself. Truly comic genius back then, now an unfortunate story. But worth looking up on YouTube if anyone hasnt seen it. - thanks JJC
jesus, nice to see a rheumatologist flying first class.
"two men say they're jesus one of them must be wrong", lyrics from industrial disease, dire straits.