Understanding pharmaceutical meetings starts with knowledge of the drug development pipeline. Each phase of the drug development process spawns several clinical meetings, which Lisa Keilty, president, The Keilty Group, Mystic, Conn., outlined in a presentation at the 8th Annual Pharma Forum, March 25-28 in Orlando. Here is a rundown of the clinical meetings involved in the various phases of the drug development process. (Terms and budgets are generalizations. Some companies may have different budgets or naming conventions.)

Research Programs. Research programs are typically sponsored by the chief science officer and are held to discuss new science, trends, approaches, and unmet medical needs in a given therapeutic area. Attendees consist of 15 to 20 academics, physicians, or key opinion leaders (KOLs). These meetings last a day or two and are often held at either a company facility or an off-site venue with easy access, like an airport hotel. The budget is $15,000 to $20,000 and they are held two to four times per year.

Investigator Meetings. Investigator meetings are held to train investigators—research physicians—and study personnel on specific protocols, such as instructions on administering the drug that is being developed. Attendance is anywhere from 40 to 100. The meetings are held in a central location at a venue within 30 minutes of an airport. They typically last from one to three days. The budget for an investigator meeting is $80,000 to $150,000.

Clinical Consultant Meetings. Clinical consultant meetings occur throughout the clinical trial. A panel of 10 to 15 third-party experts and KOLs are invited to assess the progress of a clinical trial. Meetings are held in a central location and last a day or two. They convene two to four times per year and the budget is $10,000 to $20,000 per meeting.

Advisory Committee-FDA Hearing. These are meetings to seek FDA approval for a drug. The FDA chooses an advisory committee of independent consultants to evaluate the drug. The FDA may call on the pharmaceutical company to present data on the benefits and risks of the drug. The budget, number of attendees, and length of meeting are all variable, depending on the drug. Some may take up to a week.

Marketing Meetings. Once the drug is fully approved, there are a variety of marketing meetings, including speaker training, conventions, dinner meetings, and advisory board meetings. Attendees consist of healthcare professionals, so venues, menus, and budgets all have to be business-appropriate. The number of attendees and budgets vary by meeting.

Post-Marketing-Obligatory Trials. These meetings in the post-approval phase train investigators and study personnel on the protocols for administering the drug. Budgets are $80,000 to $150,000 and meetings can last one to three days. Attendance is 40 to 100 and meetings are held in a central location at venues within 30 minutes of an airport.