Despite a troubled economy and tight travel budgets, more than 700 attendees came together to address industry challenges, discuss top trends, network, and share best practices at the Fifth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum, held March 30–31 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The conference, co-organized byand the Center for Business Intelligence, opened with an address by Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, president of Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., who presented a realistic picture of the obstacles facing pharmaceutical meetings.
“In the past six months, we have seen one or two challenges in our industry,” joked Breining, citing the economic crisis, company mergers and layoffs, the ever-changing regulatory environment, and the ongoing scrutiny of meetings by the media. Despite the troubles, she urged perseverance. “We can’t let up. We must all continue to do excellent work and continue to make the business case for meetings,” she said. “Now is not the time to roll over or fly under the radar. It may feel hopeless right now, but it certainly isn’t. I know for sure we will get through this,” she said.
Next up was keynote speaker Joseph D. Palo, PharmD, president, JD Pharma LLC, who gave attendees a rundown of how the pharmaceutical industry is poised for significant changes in the coming years.
With the cost of bringing a new drug to market reaching upwards of $1 billion, finding a profitable sales-and-model for products is becoming increasingly critical to a company’s survival. Projections based on PricewaterhouseCoopers research indicate that the pharmaceutical industry will nearly triple in value to $1.3 trillion by 2020, yet much of that growth will be in developing countries. In addition, healthcare will focus more on prevention, in turn driving up patient costs for drugs that are intended for smaller populations.
The take-aways for meetings professionals:
- an increase in pharma companies collaborating to co-launch products;
- multiple smaller product launches taking the place of large launches;
- global launches planned in shorter succession; and
- increased development of highly specialized and targeted pharmaceuticals driving a need for more training meetings for physicians and sales forces.
Following the keynote, attendees had a chance to participate in breakout sessions on topics that applied to their own needs, such as navigating the new PhRMA Code and strategies for planning internal meetings.
Day one wrapped with networking roundtable discussions, speed networking sessions, and an executive think tank.
The Sixth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum is scheduled to take place March 15–16, 2010, in Philadelphia.—Rachel Gecker