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| Written by Marie Johnson, CMP

Recap of the 15th Annual Pharma Forum 2019

Last month, six of our medical meeting masters headed to New York City to attend the 15th Annual Pharma Forum 2019 with 700 other industry professionals. The conference is presented by CBI, the health and life sciences industry leader in providing thought leadership, actionable data, benchmarking, case studies and regulatory information through a dynamic conference platform that facilitates innovation, collaboration and elevation across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and healthcare industries. In attendance from M&IW, we had representation from Sales & Marketing, Strategic Account Management, and Global Procurement.

Since healthcare is the largest segment of the meetings industry and a significant volume of business for M&IW, there is a lot to cover with medical and pharmaceutical meetings management as well as enterprise strategy. So, we caught up with our conference-goers to find out what were some of the hottest discussion topics, key learnings, and their personal highlights.

Building Relationships and Driving Business
For our global procurement team, opportunities to attend events are imperative to make new connections and deepen relationships with hoteliers and suppliers who understand the nuances and needs of healthcare meetings. “We were able to connect not only on behalf of ourselves and our accounts; but also the entire M&IW sourcing team. It can be convenient to conduct business behind a screen, but it’s another thing to shake hands and look the person in the eye, especially when you’re negotiating over several years on a large complex program” said Rachel Egan, Buyer, Hotel Procurement.


HMCC Designation and Compliance Issues
A highlight for both Peggy Weil, CMP and Rachel Egan, CMP is that they earned their Healthcare Meetings Compliance Certificate (HMCC) offered in partnership with CBI, MeetingsNet and the MPI Academy. “During our HMCC class we were able to network and discuss current issues with HCP meetings and meal caps which for some have not been raised since 2002,” said Peggy Weil, CMP, Buyer, Hotel Procurement. “We learned some companies are setting a meal cap per day no matter the country attending and during the invitation or RSVP process disclosing the caps with three options to attend without a compliance issue.” See the example below.

Dear Attendee,

Our meal cap is $150 USD inclusive per day. If you cannot meet this cap, you have three options:

  • You may opt out
  • Cover the difference personally between meal cap set and your country’s meal cap
  • Receive a meal voucher for your allotted meal cap to use in the hotel restaurant


Client Connections and Conversations
For our Global Enterprise Services team, it is an excellent opportunity for our account management team to connect with our valued clients. “A few of the hot topics were; 1)  the consequences of not continually improving your strategic meetings management program (SMMP), 2) discussing the data story – many people wanted to know what to do now that everyone has their data, and 3) best practices in contracting medical meetings such as navigating first option holds, how to adjust meal caps for global attendees and collaborating with hotels,” said Naomi Tucker, CMP, HMCC, Account Director, Global Enterprise Services. Additionally, an insight for Michael Garcia, CMP, Director, Strategic Account Management, was the level of turnover on the client side due to mergers and acquisitions and its impact on the industry.


Continuing Education and Content
Laura Coler, Account Lead, said her favorite takeaway was a comment during the presentation by David Wolfe with Merck to “work in collaboration and cooperation NOT competition.” Laura felt that one of the items missing from Pharma Forum is peer-to-peer discussions. When asked about widely discussed topics, she called out eRFPs, GDPR/HCP Compliance, Global Governance/SMMP Implementation and Event Technology.

The Pharma Forum packs a lot of content for newcomers as well as veteran attendees. One of the personal highlights for Dan Tarpey, HMCC, VP of Sales & Marketing was hearing from one of the industry’s most respected leaders on the importance of bringing the needs of the patient to the forefront of the drug development and delivery process presented by Jim Robinson, President and CEO, Alkermes. “M&IW had the privilege of working with Jim when he was with Astellas and it is impressive to see his focus on the need for improved collaboration and ongoing innovation to address real-world issues continue,” said Dan Tarpey.

In every meeting where HCPs are attendance, event management professionals have the daunting task of balancing the needs of the attendees, meeting owner and stakeholders all while remaining in compliance with regulatory standards. Our industry leaders will continue to stay ahead of the curve on the Changing Landscape of Healthcare Meetings and ensure we deliver the best solutions for our clients.