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Eli Lilly Drops The F In The UK

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WWTF? What's with the f?

Drug names are a favorite topic of mine. So, can someone please explain why the proposed commercial name for Eli Lilly's new bloodthinner in the U.S. is "Effient" with two f's, but in the UK, where the pill is making its debut today, it's going by "Efient" with only one f?

Efient will compete with Plavix from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis . And LLY must be pretty confident in its sales force making a strong case to doctors for them to pick Efient over Plavix. Reuters reports LLY is pricing its drug in Britain at a 31 percent premium to Plavix. Studies have shown Efient/Effient does a better job than Plavix at preventing blood clots, but a very small number of patients bled too much. BMY and SNY stand by their $8 billion-a-year franchise and its proven safety and efficacy in millions of patients over several years.

Effient is still waiting for FDA approval in the U.S. Citi pharma analyst John Boris recently upgraded LLY to a "Buy" based largely on his belief the company will get the agency's ok to market the drug here sometime this quarter. He forecasts $2 billion in Efient/Effient sales by 2015. On the flip side, Leerink Swann's Seamus Fernandez downgraded LLY yesterday to the equivalent of a "Sell" citing lower future cash flow, looming drug patent expirations and challenges facing the diabetes drug Byetta that Lilly shares with Amylin .

Shares of LLY are up more than four bucks over the past month or so. Over that time the stock has performed twice as well as the AMEX pharmaceutical index.

So, it gets an "A" for recent outperformance, but an "F" for messing with Effient, er Efient.

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