Following ISIS attacks, drugmaker mulls name change

When Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) formed more than 25 years ago, it picked its name to be associated with the Egyptian goddess of health and well-being.

As company spokesperson Wade Walke puts it, "Obviously we were not named after a terrorist group."

Unlike Isis Books and Gifts, a Denver-area bookstore vandalized after the terror attacks in Paris, a name change is actively being discussed at Isis Pharmaceuticals, which makes drugs to treat ailments including cancer and heart disease.

"Up until this point, it hadn't been an issue," Walke said. "But, many of us were deeply affected by the tragedy in Paris -- several people who work at the company are natives of France -- it weighed heavily on us, and we don't want to have that association."

While some press accounts pondered whether the company's name prompted its stock to decline 4 percent on Monday, Walke discounted the notion. "I don't know if the name is having that much pressure on the stock per se," he said, pointing out shares had risen more than 15 percent over the last month.

Several months ago the drug developer did an investor survey and found its name was not an issue for institutional backers, nor was it inhibiting the company's ability to operate or decrease its value, Walke said. "I do get calls and emails from retail investors saying this is an awful name, and you really should change it," he added.