US company changes its name from Isis to Ionis Pharmaceuticals

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Isis Pharmaceuticals Changes Its Name After Terrorists Attack Stock Price.

“We decided to change our company name because when people see or hear our name we want them to think about the life-saving medicines we are developing,” said Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Ionis Pharmaceuticals.Isis Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that it is finally changing its name to something that people won’t confuse with the terrorist group that took credit for the recent Paris attacks and other deadly episodes of violence.The California pharmaceutical company whose name became a marketing headache with the rise of the terror group ISIS decided on Friday it was better to change its identity then fight. “We don’t want to talk about that terrorist group anymore,” said a spokesman for the company. “We have some exciting drugs in late-stage development coming out next year, and we want people talking about them.” The company considered keeping part of its legacy name — such as Gen-Isis or Sis-Gen — and also toyed with appropriating the identity of another Egyptian god.

Animosity toward ISIS has grown to an extent that CEO Stan Crooke started worrying about the safety of employees while traveling and exchanging business cards, the spokesman said. Islamic State, commonly known as Isis, IS and Daesh, have claimed responsibility for several violent attacks around the world, including the gun and bomb massacres in Paris last month. ‘They can easily distinguish between us and a Middle Eastern terrorist group,’ Vice President of Corporate Communications D. In June 2014, a Wall Street Journal article speculated that an association with negative press about ISIS terrorists might be to blame for a 7% drop in the pharma firm’s stock.

Last month after the Paris attacks, CNNMoney raised the possibility that terrorists had again struck Isis Pharmaceuticals’ shares, which fell 4% despite no relevant news. Over the past year, the company’s stock has lost 2.3%, underperforming the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which has returned more than 6%, as well as the S&P Pharmaceuticals Select Industry Index, which is just slightly down.

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. Even if investors could consciously distinguish between the pharmaceutical company and the terrorists, it’s still possible the confusion could have moved the market.

As Fortune detailed in a recent magazine feature, “How Investors Are Using Social Media to Make Money,” in its annual Investor’s Guide, traders are increasingly using algorithms to scan social media and other websites for key terms, triggering computers to buy or sell stocks automatically. Last year, Ionis’s CEO (which was then called Isis) Stanley Crooke told CNBC that sharing the name with terrorists “drives me crazy.” But he also expressed his reluctance to be influenced by the group, adopting a we-don’t-negotiate-with-terrorists sort of attitude. “I don’t feel that I want to capitulate to these terrorists by changing my name,” he said in the interview. “They can change their name.” Since then, though, the company became concerned that any association with ISIS might pose additional risks to the safety or wellbeing of its employees, particularly if they were traveling, Walke said. He personally experienced the potential problems when he told a local police officer earlier this year that he worked for Isis, whose offices were nearby.

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