To the Editor:

In response to Dr. Bacon's concerns about the rationale leading to granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's) being proposed as an alternative name for Wegener's granulomatosis, we offer the following comments.

We agree that the ideal name of a disease is one that is based on an accurate description of the underlying pathogenesis. However, we do not agree that eponyms are adopted merely because diseases are hard to characterize with simple terms. Many complex multisystem diseases bear descriptive names, such as systemic sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, or anti–basement membrane disease. Although oversimplified, the descriptive terms do transmit clinical information that is more useful than a person's name.

The impetus for the proposed disease name change was a reaction to evidence that Dr. Wegener was, at least at some point in his career, a follower of the Nazi regime. However, other significant factors in the decision to propose a new name were a desire to replace eponyms with more scientifically appropriate terms and the similarities of this syndrome with other predominantly small-vessel vasculitides, especially microscopic polyangiitis. The name granulomatosis with polyangiitis is substantially more descriptive than the eponym and includes reference to the two major features of the illness.

The continuous increase in the understanding of the etiology, pathogenesis, and clinical features of diseases should lead to replacement of more eponyms and inadequate descriptors by more accurate terms.

Ronald J. Falk MD, FACP*, J. Charles Jennette MD*, Wolfgang L. Gross MD, PhD†, Loïc Guillevin MD‡, Gary S. Hoffman MD§, David R. W. Jayne MD, FRCP¶, Cees G. M. Kallenberg MD**, Raashid Luqmani MD††, Alfred D. Mahr MD, PhD‡‡, Eric L. Matteson MD, MPH§§, Ulrich Specks MD§§, Peter A. Merkel MD, MPH¶¶, Richard A. Watts DM, FRCP11, * University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, † Medical University at Lubeck, Lubeck, Germany, ‡ Université Paris Descartes, Hôpital Cochin, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France, § Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, ¶ Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK, ** University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands, †† University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, ‡‡ Université Paris Diderot, Paris 7, Hôpital Saint-Louis, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France, §§ Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, ¶¶ Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, 11 Ipswich Hospital, National Health Service Trust, Ipswich, UK.