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Same Vaccine, New Name. Why Did Pfizer Choose Comirnaty?

Same Vaccine, New Name. Why Did Pfizer Choose Comirnaty?

After an FDA approval, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is entering the market under a new name: “Comirnaty.”

Twitter users took a jab at the rebrand, but registering a product name is a relatively common procedure after it’s approved by the FDA.

Jonathan Baktari, MD, CEO of e7health.com, who has been in the vaccine business before the pandemic, tells Verywell that all pharmaceutical companies name their drugs or vaccines.

“They don’t usually name a product after their parent name,” he says.

Before an FDA approval, pharmaceutical companies do not have a patent to move forward with names and branding for their product. For Pfizer, the commonly understood “Pfizer vaccine” title was more of a descriptor than a name, Baktari says. He suggests thinking of Comirnaty less as a new title, but rather as the first official title for the Pfizer vaccine.

“Part of it is getting the patent and also developing brand awareness,” Baktari says. “They try to give it a name that symbolizes something similar to what the disease or treatment does.”

The FDA approval of Comirnaty applies to people aged 16 and above. The mRNA-based vaccine was first granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December 2020 and continues to be under an EUA for children ages 12 to 16. In EUA circumstances, the company will still refer to its shot as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Regardless of name, the vaccine formulation is the same, Baktari says. People who receive Comirnaty or the vaccine under EUA can rest assured that they’re getting the same shot.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been branded as Comirnaty in Europe since last December, when it was authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

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