Big Pharma entry's new name, AbbVie: rhymes with R&D

When Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) announced some months ago that it was spinning off its pharma business and keeping the Abbott name for itself, the new company looked oddly like an anonymous orphan to some. Yesterday the orphan got a name--AbbVie--along with a lesson in dead languages and a reminder of just how hard it is to name anything in this business without earning a few hoots along the way.

From the company's perspective, AbbVie (pronounced "Abb-Vee") offered a chance to reference its corporate roots along with the Latin root for "life." "The beginning of the name connects the new company to Abbott and its heritage of pioneering science," said Richard Gonzalez, who will helm the spinout. "The 'vie' calls attention to the vital work the company will continue to advance to improve the lives of people around the world."

But AbbVie's ideas about Latin roots raised eyebrows in some corners.

"I would have never known that AbbVie was trying to incorporate a Latin word, especially not 'life,'" observed Julia Nelson Hawkins, the Latin expert at Ohio State, when Dow Jones called. Really, she said, vie is more French than Latin.

One wag observed to Dow Jones that AbbVie will come into the world with one big product and the prospect of big competition in a few years, making it more of a HumVie.

With $18 billion in revenue and an appetite for big licensing pacts which has been whetted by some recent deal-making, though, chances are AbbVie's money will continue to speak louder than words in the biopharma business. So all you have to remember is that AbbVie rhymes with R&D.  

- here's the story from Dow Jones

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