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Isis Pharmaceuticals Ponders Name Change After Attacks

Nov. 18, 2015
'A year ago, it wasn't really an issue for our patients and shareholders as we are not a retail brand,' said a company vice president. 'But things have changed since the tragedy in Paris.'

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Isis Pharmaceuticals is considering a name change after last week's deadly attacks in Paris, a company official said Wednesday.

Wade Walke, a vice president for the California pharma company, said the attacks in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people and wounded hundreds had changed the picture. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has claimed responsibility for the assaults, is often called by its acronym Isis. 

"A year ago, it wasn't really an issue for our patients and shareholders as we are not a retail brand," Walke told AFP. "But things have changed since the tragedy in Paris."

"It's becoming more of a problem for us. People are focusing more on our name. We don't want the focus on our name. We want them to talk about our treatments."

Walke said the company was evaluating whether to change names, but that the process will take "several months, not weeks."

Isis Pharmaceuticals considered changing its name before, but decided against it after a poll of shareholders a few months ago recommended no change.

Created in 1989, Isis Pharmaceuticals is known for treatments against cancer and heart disease as well as for countering rare diseases. It has a number of partnerships with larger pharma companies, including AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

Based in Carlsbad, California, Isis Pharmaceuticals had $214.2 million in revenue in 2014 and currently has a market capitalization of about $7.2 billion. The company trades under the ticker "ISIS."

Isis shares were down 0.9% at $60.77 in afternoon trade on Wednesday, about three percent lower than their closing level on Friday, before news of the Paris attacks had emerged.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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