Drugmaker Isis Becomes Ionis to Stop Sharing Name With Militants

Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. is changing its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., giving up its steadfast defense of its former brand in the wake of a series of terror attacks linked to the Middle Eastern militant group of the same name.

The drugmaker will also change its stock ticker from ISIS to IONS, the company said in a statement Friday.

"When people see or hear our name, we want them to think about the life-saving medicines we are developing," Lynne Parshall, the company’s chief operating officer, said in the statement.

While the militant group, which is also known as the Islamic State, has been operating for years, the company began weighing a name change last month because the deadly Paris attacks unnerved employees. The company held out longer than the Isis mobile wallet app owned by AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc., which changed its name to Softcard more than a year ago, then shut down a few months later.

Named after Isis, the Egyptian goddess associated with good health, the company has had the moniker since its founding 26 years ago. Ionis is an "original name" that doesn’t mean anything, according to the company statement.

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