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Isis Pharmaceuticals changes 'unfortunate' name to avoid unwanted association

Isis Pharmaceuticals announced that it would change its name on account of sharing a name with the self-styled 'Islamic State' group (IS). The company will start operating under its new name, Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Established 26 years ago, drug developer Isis Pharmaceuticals announced its name had become a distraction for being associated with the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS), widely known by the acronym "ISIS" (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

The IS group has claimed responsibility for violent attacks around the world including the November 13 massacre in Paris, which killed 130 people. The biotechnology company 's stock had dropped by about 4 percent on the first trading day after the Paris attacks.

"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. The company said it had been deliberating the name change for most of the year.

Chief Business Officer Sarah Boyce told Reuters news agency that the company wanted to avoid people to think about the "unfortunate namesake" when hearing about the drugmaker.

"When you talk about the company you want people to immediately think about the incredible work you're doing to deliver transformational drugs to patients, not as an unfortunate namesake," she said.

Healing goddess as original role model

Isis Pharmaceuticals was named after Egyptian goddess Isis, associated with healing properties. The drug company, based in Carlsbad, California, is known around the world for developing drugs for rare diseases, including cancer drugs and cholesterol medication.

As of next week, it will change its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals and will also trade under the stock exchange ticker symbol "IONS."

ss/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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