12 Difficult-to-Pronounce Drug Names, Part 3


This article is the third in a series on difficult to pronounce drug names.

This article is the third in a series on difficult to pronounce drug names. Part 1 and Part 2 were previously published.

Patients often struggle with pronouncing both generic and brand-name medications, but they are not alone. With thousands of FDA-approved medications on the market, it can be difficult for pharmacists to stay up-to-date on drug name pronunciations.

Here is a list of medications with names that may require some practice:

1. Onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi1

Onasemnogene abeparvovec (Zolgensma, AveXis and Novartis) is a gene therapy medication that was approved May 2019 to treat pediatric patients less than age 2 years with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) with bi-allelic mutations in the survival motor neuron 1 gene. Given as a 1-time dose, this drug demonstrated notably high efficacy from clinical trials, although the population sizes were relatively small.

Zolgensma made headlines earlier this year for being the world’s most expensive medication at a price of $2.1 million.


Onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi (ON a SEM noe jeen A be PAR voe vek)

2. Voretigene neparvovec1

Voretigene neparvovec (Luxturna, Spark Therapeutics) was approved in December 2017 as a 1-time therapy to treat children and adults with a specific inherited form of vision loss that can result in blindness. Upon its approval, this drug became the first approved gene therapy that targets a disease caused by mutation in a specific gene.


Voretigene neparvovec (voe RET i jeen ne PAR voe vek)

3. Moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk1

Moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk (Lumoxiti, AstraZeneca) is a CD-22 directed cyotoxin indicated for adult patients with relapsed or refractory hairy cell leukemia in those who have received at least 2 prior systemic therapies. With its approval, this drugi became the first FDA-approved medicine for this condition in more than 20 years.


Moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk (mox e TOOM oh mab pa SOO doe tox)

4. Ixabepilone1

Ixabepilone (Ixempra, R-Pharm) is an intravenous chemotherapy agent used for certain patients with breast cancer. It acts as a microtubule inhibitor, which has downstream effects on cellular processes such as transport, cell shape, migration, and mitosis.


Ixabepilone (ix ab EP i lone)

5. Nitisinone1,2

In 2002 the FDA approved nitisinone (Orfadin, Sobi), a hydroxy-phenylpyruvate dioxygenase inhibitor for the treatment of patients with hereditary tyrosinemia type 1.

The nitisinone molecule was initially discovered from the bottlebrush plant as part of a program to develop a new class of herbicides but was later found to be therapeutically beneficial.


Nitisinone (ni TIS i known)

6. Elapegademase-lvlr1,3

In October 2018, the FDA approved Elapegademase-lvlr (Revcovi, Leadiant Biosciences), an enzyme replacement therapy for the treatment of adenosine deaminase severe combined immune deficiency (ADA-SCID). This disease is an ultra-rare inherited, genetic disorder, caused by a deficiency in the adenosine deaminase enzyme that can be fatal if left untreated.

Revcovi is dosed via weight-based dosing administered every week. It’s notable for its extremely high cost at over $7800 list price per vial.


Elapegademase-lvlr (EL a peg AD e mase)

7. PrabotulinumtoxinA-xvfs1

PrabotulinumtoxinA-xvfs (Jeuveau, Evolus) is an acetylcholine release inhibitor and neuromuscular blocking agent used to improve the look of moderate to severe frown lines. This drug is being marked as a lower cost alternative to Botox, which has been on the market for over 15 years.


PrabotulinumtoxinA-xvfs (pra BOT ue LYE num TOX in AY)

8. CGRP agents1

CGRP inhibitors are a new class of drugs used for migraine prevention. They work by blocking the effect of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a protein that is involved in pain transmission and has been shown to have elevated levels during migraine attacks.

In September 2018, fremanezumab-vfrm (Ajovy, Teva) became the first medication in this class to be approved. Galcanezumab-gnlm (Emgality, Lilly) would receive approval later that month and erenumab-aooe (Aimovig, Amgen and Novartis) in May 2018. Differences between products exist in terms of frequency of dosing, specific mechanism (blocking CGRP receptor vs CGRP itself) and additional indications (e.g. cluster headache).


Fremanezumab-vfrm (free ma NEZ ue mab)

Galcanezumab-gnlm (GAL ka NEZ ue mab)

Erenumab-aooe (e REN ue mab)

9. Solriamfetol1,4

In March 2019, the FDA approved solriamfetol (Sunosi, Jazz Pharmaceuticals), the first dual-acting dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (DNRI) indicated to improve wakefulness in adult patients with excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea.


Solriamfetol (SOL ri AM fe tol)

10. Palbociclib

Palbociclib (Ibrance, Pfizer) is a kinase inhibitor used for patients a specific type of advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Looking at the pronunciation, palbociclib isn’t actually all that difficult to pronounce; however having a word with both a hard and soft “c” so close together can cause some confusion when first seeing the word.


Palbociclib (pal boe SYE klib)

What medication names are missing from the list? Tweet them to me @toshea125.


  • Lexicomp Online®, Lexi-Drugs®, Hudson, Ohio: Lexi-Comp, Inc.; September 24, 2019.
  • Nitisinone. National Institutes of Health. https://livertox.nlm.nih.gov/Nitisinone.htm. Accessed September 25, 2019.
  • Adenosine deaminase deficiency. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/adenosine-deaminase-deficiency. Accessed September 25 2019.
  • de Biase S, Nilo A, Gigli G, Valente M. Investigational therapies for the treatment of narcolepsy. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2017 Aug;26(8):953-963. doi: 10.1080/13543784.2017.1356819.

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