A Candid Look at the Contract Pharma Conference

A few months back I published a blog article on the value of attending Interphex. For the regular readers (I know there are few), you will recall that I started that article by simply stating my distaste for the trade show circuit. Having been employed through and within the pharmaceutical industry for (yikes) over 25 years now, I have done my fair share of trade show days. For many years Whitehouse Labs did not routinely participate in these types of meetings, as I was suspect of the return on investment. Over the past 2-3 years we have revised our meeting policy and now routinely attend a few key tradeshows and conferences and thankfully, we have seen a positive effect on business. Herein are some additional anecdotal observations on trade shows and conferences specifically on the Contract Pharma Conference that will be held for the 14th year in a row this September.

Trade Shows Today are Vastly Improved over Trade Shows of Bygone Years.
Just a few years back trade shows were inclined to be social events used as a “reward” trip for both company exhibitors and conference attendees. The focus was on setting up dinners and cocktail hours in a fun city. While the educational component was always highlighted, it was not always the prime focus. In my opinion, this trend has reversed itself. In the current economic climate, companies and attendees need to see and realize a return on investment. A good ROI qualifier is now based on education. For example, the upcoming Contract Pharma conference will feature at least three speakers with direct FDA employment on their resumes. These are professionals who will help attendees understand current FDA trends and directives specific to our industry. Hot button topics will be highlighted, addressed, discussed and as such, be thought about by those in attendance. When an attendee returns to work and their supervisor asks “what did you learn at Contract Pharma” they will be able to discuss key trends in the CMO industry and how serialization is being used to track and trace your product through its life cycle. Just a few years ago, the answer would have been “I had a great dinner at famous Andy’s steakhouse” – that type of ROI just does not cut it anymore.

The New Jersey Location is Still Relevant.
We all know that the Pharma industry is not as prevalent in New Jersey the way it was 20 years ago. Some may explain that New Jersey was a “large molecule” development mecca but that the industry is now “small molecule” focused, with Boston and San Diego the places to be. Hogwash – New Jersey is still relevant and while some of the big players have diversified their location and pharma may not employ quite as many as it once did, NEW JERSEY is still a hot bed of industry knowledge and experience. There are many of us still in the garden state with those 25 plus years of firsthand drug development knowledge and regulatory requirements that are as relevant for large and small molecules – even biologics. For the past 14 years, the Contract Pharma Conference has proven to be an annual retreat that brings us all together. And while this annual reunion may bring a social aspect of seeing old friends and co-workers, even the social aspect now takes on a more professional connotation as many of us are networking for the next opportunity.  The fact that for us locals we have no travel expenses is an added bonus.

In summary, I still remain skeptical at times with regard to trade show attendance but have softened my stance. I think they have come a long way in offering educational value on key relevant topics. While I remain judicious in selecting which ones offer the best return on investment, I am more than convinced that Contract Pharma’s annual September show is beneficial and worthwhile. I hope to see you there.