Drawing nearly 200 attendees, the first annual West Coast Medical Device and Bio/Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum—which took place December 10 to11 at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, Calif.—brought meeting planners and suppliers together to learn effective strategies for planning meetings that comply with the evolving legal and regulatory environment of the pharmaceutical industry.

The forum—co-sponsored by Medical Meetings and the Center for Business Intelligence—served as a companion event to the annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum (approaching its fourth year on the East Coast in Baltimore this March) and, for the first time, included educational tracks developed specifically for the medical device sector.

The forum’s keynote speakers discussed trends facing the medical device and bio/pharma industries, provided an update on the regulatory landscape, and urged planners to act as “a conscience” for the industry to help rebuild its tarnished public image.

Attendees also heard a lot about “perception” throughout the conference, as they discussed the role perception plays in planning meetings as well as their own role in changing the negative perceptions the public has about this highly regulated sector. As one speaker put it, flawless meeting execution is no longer enough; meeting planners are now being asked to step up and help to influence the behaviors of an industry.

Sessions focused on educating planners about increased federal, state, and industry regulations affecting their jobs, and roundtable discussions gave attendees a forum in which to share ideas and best practices for planning compliant and effective meetings. The event also featured panel discussions on such topics as contracting with hotels, strategic meetings management, and future trends—where a lively panel touched on everything from green meetings to social networking tools.

Attendees also had the opportunity on day two to choose from four concurrent tracks geared toward their specific roles (senior meeting planners, medical device meetings, pharma and biotech meetings, and independent meeting planners). When the conference concluded, planners were left with a broader depth of knowledge and a strong message for the future: The regulatory environment of the pharma industry is here to stay, and it is each person’s responsibility to ensure compliance.

Registration is under way for the Fourth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum taking place March 17-19, 2008, at the Baltimore Convention Center. Click here for registration details.