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A pill by any other name

London, Feb. 3 (Reuters): It may the newest drug to rival Viagra and last longer and act quicker but Briton Russell Cialis is not happy that the latest anti-impotence pill to hit the market shares his name and wants the company to change it.

The 64-year-old public relations executive and his family do not want their name linked to a drug that boosts male libido and have already been the butt of jokes since pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly decided to call it Cialis. They have been pressing the firm to choose another moniker for the yellow pills for nearly two years but the first official launch of the drug in Britain today with a 24-hour news conference — the length of time of the drug’s desired effect — has deflated all their hopes and they are considering legal action.

“We were hoping against hope that they would drop the name but now they go ahead in spite of our protestations,” Cialis said today.

The firm claims Cialis has the edge over Viagra because it offers users a “24 hour window of opportunity” for sex.

The British arm of the family, which extends to Ireland, France, Canada and Tasmania, have spoken to lawyers and are having a family meeting soon to plan their next move.

“Imagine how Mr Viagra would feel it if there was one. He would be the butt of jokes,” said Cialis. “Anybody mentions Viagra and everybody goes into the sniggers. There are all these ribald and embarrassing type comments and the same will now come about with Cialis going ahead.”

Eli Lilly says there is no breach of patent because the name was not registered as a patent. Cialis works in public relations, not the pharmaceutical industry, so there is no conflict of interest.

“It is a very unfortunate coincidence that the family has the same name. When we heard about the family we investigated using other names,” said Robert Brown, Lilly’s global marketing director for Cialis. “We have not found that to be a viable option. There are no global name databases out there so that you can insure a product has no person’s name to it. Given all those facts we decided the best path was to maintain its current name,” he said in an interview.

But Cialis believes it is not a matter of patents, trademarks or law but a human rights issue.

His public relations company is named after him and his marketing consultant daughter and another relative in Ireland, who is an artist, use the name professionally.

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