Life Sciences Forum: Exploring Big Pharma’s Role in Shaping Patient Wellness and Our Economy


On Thursday, November 17 the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia collaborated with the Irish American Business Chamber and Network (IABCN) on a Life Sciences Forum.  The half day seminar explored big pharma’s role in shaping patient wellness and our economy, and took place at BABC member company Almac’s North American headquarters in Souderton, Pennsylvania. 

The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organization that provides an extensive range of integrated services globally to companies within the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors.  Almac’s services include R&D, biomarker discovery and development, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IXRS technology(IVRS/IXRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture and companion diagnostic development.  Almac is privately owned, and  employs more than  4,500 highly skilled personnel.  Almac is headquartered in Craigavon, Northern Ireland with operations in the UK, Ireland, across the US (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California) and in Asia (Singapore and Tokyo). Exactly one week prior to this program it was announced that Almac is planning to add more than 300 jobs in Montgomery County over the next three years.  They are expanding operations at the existing 240,000-square-foot US headquarters in Souderton, and doubling its physical presence in Lansdale.  The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development is providing Almac with $1.56 million grant under the state’s Pennsylvania First Program to support the expansion.  Almac plans to invest more than $24.4 million on the expansion, which will include new machine lines, computer equipment, software, and an expanded cold storage area. The company, which has 1,100 employees, said the expansion will create 312 new jobs.

The interactive symposium featured pharmaceutical/life sciences and commercial industry experts who discussed major trends in drug development, the cost of healthcare, and the impact on patients and our economy.  Learning objectives included: the industry’s greatest challenges and the next generation of future collaborations that will be needed; the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on the broader economy; the pharmaceutical business model and risk profile; and the need to understand patient advocacy and engagement, such as the voice of patients: what do they want and need?  What is personalized medicine and how can it change healthcare?  The role of clinical trials and the value to patients and industry, and patient advocacy groups and how they improve communication and engagement.  The keynote speaker was Brendan Fenton, Regional Finance Director for Australia, Canada and Western Europe at Bristol-Myers Squibb.  Panelists were: John Barry, Head of Portfolio Sourcing and Relationship Management (PSRM), Merck Research Laboratories at Merck & Co.; Michael Sapienza , Chief Executive Officer of The Colon Cancer Alliance; and Moderator George Tiger, Vice President, Global Business Development, Clinical Technologies, Almac Group. 

The in depth discussion provided attendees with an insider’s view of big pharma – one must not forget who the industry serves – people with serious, often life threatening, medical issues.  The panelists and moderator provided a glimpse into how pharmaceutical and bio tech companies work behind the scenes to best serve their end users.  For several hours, the nearly 100 attendees were actively engaged in conversation.  Following an interactive question and answer period there was a networking session, and delicious food and drinks were served.

Special thanks to the IABCN for inviting us to collaborate on this informative program, and to host BABC member company Almac.

Link to photos available shorty.



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