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How Meetings Help Bring Drugs to Market

At least eight kinds of meetings are involved in the drug-development process. Here’s a primer to help life-science company planners better understand the journey.

This article is excerpted with permission from the BCD Meetings & Events blog.

From discovery and development to FDA review and a sales launch, a variety of meetings support a medicine on its journey to better patient outcomes. These meetings help life sciences companies gain expert input from doctors, train medical professionals, and educate the sales team.

To better understand the drug-development process, here is an explanation of the meetings involved in each phase:

Phase 1: Discovery and Development
During discovery, researchers conduct early testing of molecular compounds for potential candidates for development. Once a probable compound has been identified, experiments are conducted to collect information on the benefits, dosage, and side effects.

Clinical Trial Meeting 
The goal of this type of meeting is to train healthcare professionals on how to administer the drug and what data to gather during the clinical trial.

Advisory Boards
These meetings connect the pharmaceutical company with industry experts to seek advice and discuss data to better understand a therapy area.

Phase 2: Preclinical Research
In the preclinical phase, researchers analyze the safety and efficiency of a product in order to decide whether it is safe to test in humans.

Investigator Meeting
These meetings can vary in purpose but always with the intention of training and keeping sites (where a clinical trial or study is conducted) engaged and patients enrolled. They train sites on the study protocol and often offer refresh trainings or updates as they move through the phases.

Clinical Research Associates Training
Study teams will also use investigator meetings as an opportunity to host CRA trainings. CRAs (or trial monitors) oversee clinical trials on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. They are "assigned" to certain sites and networking with them at meetings is important.

Also involved in this phase:
• Advisory Boards
• Clinical Trial Meeting

Phase 3: Clinical Research & Development
Clinical research studies how a drug will interact with the human body and includes research that is done on people.

Sponsored Symposia
These are scientific lectures performed by an expert speaker at a congress organized by a medical association and attended by HCPs interested in the topic.

Also involved in this phase:
• Advisory Boards
• Investigator Meetings
• KOL Meetings

Phase 4: FDA Drug Review
Once a drug developer collects evidence from its research that a drug is safe and effective, the company can file an application with the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. (or the European Medicines Agency, EMA, in Europe) to market the drug.

Product Launch
The goal of this meeting is to introduce the product once it has been approved to sell. Generally, this is an internal launch within the company to include all colleagues working on the specific product.

Product Training
Attended by internal and cross-functional teams, the purpose of this meeting is to train the attendees on the product.

Also involved in this phase:
• Advisory Boards

These meeting types are vital in the drug-approval process. The patients involved and data collected and reported on is crucial. The communication between various functional teams within the life-science company and externally with KOLs (key opinion leaders) is fundamental to the drug development process and meetings play a key role in bringing stakeholders together.

This article originally appeared in the BCD Meetings & Events blog. The author, Allison Mill is senior operations manager for the Life Sciences Center of Excellence at BCD Meetings & Events.

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