FPM Annual Symposium was held at the Wellcome Collection on Wednesday 22 November 2023. Themed “Navigating the future-scape of pharmaceutical medicine,” the symposium united global healthcare leaders post-COVID, symbolising hope and collaboration.
The symposium covered diverse topics, from global health to AI, genomics, and sustainability. We had a stellar line-up of speakers, including Dr June Raine DBE FFPM, Prof Kevin Fenton, Sir Jonathan Symonds CBE, Dr David Jefferys FFPM, Dr Trishan Panch, Prof Frances Flinter, and many more.
To commemorate the triumph of the event Will Strange (FPM marketing and digital communications manager), Dr Miranda Davies MFPM (chief medical officer from DSRU- silver sponsor) and Dr Rav Seeruthun FFPM (speaker of the AI session) have shared their experiences of the day, allowing us to fondly reminisce and relive the experience!
My name is Will and I have been involved in producing the past six editions of the FPM Annual Symposium. As I was one of several FPM staff to work on the 2023 edition I’m going to try and write some reflections as much on behalf of my colleagues* as myself.
*who all deftly avoided the writing baton as it was being passed around for this blog, grumble grumble
Could you briefly describe your role in organising the event?
I wore a few hats for this year’s event – sponsorship sales, branding and collateral design, official photographer, content producer and more.
Do you think the event went well?
In my opinion this year’s event went as well or better than any I have been involved with previously. I was personally grateful that we were spared 2022’s (unrealised) threat of a rail strike, and I’m thankful that the memory (trauma?) of hosting an online conference platform from my home office with domestic internet in 2020 is further receding, helped by another smooth running of a hybrid symposium.
The success of the 2023 event was baked in during the planning stage when a highly productive and collaborative working group comprising members and staff developed the themes and started to secure speakers. Two people are worth picking out for praise at this point. Firstly Karen Mullen who chaired the event planning working group as well as the event itself. I didn’t work closely with Karen however my colleagues who collaborated with her had nothing but praise for her stewardship in both of her dual roles. The second person is our president Dr Flic Gabbay whose willingness to seek and personally secure many of the speakers meant that we were able to produce a programme of really very high quality which made my team’s job of promoting the event a straightforward task. On behalf of FPM staff I’d like to extend my thanks to Karen and Flic for their contributions.
On the day itself I was grateful that we were able to negotiate an early opening with Wellcome. We were granted access from 07:00 which gave the FPM team almost two hours to set-up and helped avoid that awkward segue where you might be in full-on administrative tornado mode one minute and then have to present a ‘game face’ to distinguished guests and speakers the next. We still had that admin frenzy but it had mostly dissipated more than 30 minutes before registration opened which meant that guests were met with a composed FPM staff cohort on arrival (at least that’s how we felt!). This additional prep time gave us a little breathing space and set the day up for success from minute one.
How did the exhibition and sponsorship part of the event go?
I felt that the four event sponsors got outstanding value for their investments. Their branding was displayed prominently throughout the lifecycle of the event – from pre-event comms, day-of brand placement and post-event activities – and the exhibition stands were very busy during all the refreshment breaks. We actually had capacity to host even more sponsors and exhibitors so I hope that at the next edition we’ll have a few more supporters joining us. Based on my observations from the 2023 event, I feel even more confident than ever that we deliver excellent ROI for sponsors.
Any final reflections?
FPM is a purpose-driven organisation, however as a member of staff our mission can sometimes feel a little abstracted from our day-to-day tasks. How does making a change to the website navigation help to heal people?! The annual symposium gives us staff a chance to see how our efforts and talent contribute to providing a dynamic and bustling home for a group of professionals, all united by that common purpose to advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine for the benefit of the public. It’s something that is always thrilling to witness and serves as a reminder that our day jobs really are linked to our mission.
The annual symposium gives us staff a chance to see how our efforts and talent contribute to providing a dynamic and bustling home for a group of professionals
“”Excellent organisation of the FPM symposium 2023.”
– anonymous delegate
Could you provide a brief overview of your involvement in the event?
The Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) is a long-time supporter of the FPM. The DSRU was a silver sponsor at this year’s Annual Symposium. The sponsorship package comprises a number of promotional opportunities including an exhibition stand at the event and sharing of an e-spotlight video via the FPM (which we will release soon).
What motivated your organisation to sponsor?
The DSRU is the UK’s leading pharmacovigilance and pharmacoepidemiology unit, which conducts real-world studies for large and small pharmaceutical companies. We recognise that pharmaceutical physicians are often key decision makers in these companies, so we were keen to use this opportunity to meet some of them and explain the range of observational studies that we offer.
In addition, we wanted to inform delegates about our training. The DSRU has worked with the FPM for many years to deliver training for PMST. As the leading pharmacovigilance training provider in Europe, we run a range of courses, included FPM-accredited training in Pharmacovigilance, Risk Management and Benefit-Risk Evaluation. These courses remain relevant to support Specialty Capabilities in Practice 6 and 7 in the current PMST curriculum. Our short interactive courses are designed to suit to busy trainees.
How did you find the overall atmosphere and organisation of the event?
The event was well organised, both in terms of advance planning and arrangements on the day. The venue was well-suited to the event and there was a good balance of engaging sessions and breaks for networking. We enjoyed the warm atmosphere.
Did you get a chance to attend any plenary or breakout sessions? If so, Were there specific sessions or speakers that you found particularly interesting or impactful?
I found the breakout session entitled “Accelerated Access to Medicines – Regulatory and Reimbursement”, which discussed the various routes available for earlier approvals for medicines, to be of particular interest and relevance.
How do you see the themes discussed aligning with your organisation’s goals or interests?
The availability of accelerated patient access to innovative, life changing treatments is a big step forward. The DSRU will continue to promote the conduct of post-marketing studies to generate real-world evidence to supplement data obtained during pre-marketing development and to monitor the ongoing safety and effectiveness of products.
How did your organisation benefit from the exhibition space?
We were delighted to meet many delegates who were interested in both our real-world studies and our pharmacovigilance training. It was good to reconnect with people who had attended DSRU training over the last few years. We are looking forward to receiving the list of opted-in delegates, so that we can maintain the connection.
“Thank you for a well organized and stimulating symposium!”
– anonymous delegate
What was your favourite session?
Trishan Panch’s keynote session was a standout moment for me, particularly in the context of the hot topic of AI and its application to pharmaceutical medicine. Trishan’s presentation skilfully delved into the origin and impact of artificial intelligence. His practical examples and accessible explanations made complex concepts understandable for the audience. Overall the session offered valuable insights into the integration of AI in pharmaceutical medicine and the potential impact it will have on all of us, whether in on drug development, pharmacovigilance, clinical trials, and patient outcomes.
Can you highlight one or two key takeaways from your sessions?
I really enjoyed the plenary panel on climate, health and equity: a business critical and patient centric opportunity for industry leadership. My key takeaway was by integrating actions addressing climate and health concerns not only promotes environmental sustainability but also holds the potential to significantly enhance patient outcomes. This synergy can lead to more resilient healthcare systems, improved public health, and a positive impact on overall well-being.
The second was that health equity, the battle to challenge health inequality, is something we all need to address. AI and data will empower the challenge against health inequality by enabling personalized healthcare solutions. Pharmaceutical physicians, equipped with these tools, are critical to analysing diverse datasets, identifying disparities, and tailoring interventions. This targeted approach will enhance healthcare accessibility, efficiency, and ultimately contributes to reducing health disparities among different populations.
Did you have the chance to connect with peers or industry professionals?
One of the major reasons I attend the Symposium is to connect with peers, network, and meet fellow industry professionals. Engaging in meaningful conversations, exchanging insights, and establishing valuable connections added great value to my overall experience. The 2023 event proved highly successful in fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange. There was a great balance between sessions and networking events throughout the day, it truly enriched my understanding of the field and opened doors to potential collaborations and future professional growth
How would you describe the overall impact and significance of this event in your field?
The Symposium impacted my role as a pharmaceutical physician by offering cutting-edge insights from a diverse range of speakers, fostering networking opportunities, and showcasing advancements in our field. It provided a platform for exchanging ideas, staying abreast of industry trends, and gaining valuable knowledge, ultimately enhancing my professional expertise and influencing positive contributions to pharmaceutical medicine that I can apply practically the next day.
“I could see that a great deal of care and thought had gone into the day, the atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming, and I would like to thank everyone involved.”
– anonymous delegate
FPM Annual Symposium 2023
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