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An inside view at the world's largest research-based Big Pharma -Pfizer

This week, I attended a two day seminar, the "Personalized Medicine Workshop" at Pfizer Inc., the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company.   I have a keen personal interest in Pfizer because it is an industry leader in biomedical research and in a particularly strong position in Oncology research, a topic near and dear to me.  As there is no cure for my type of blood cancer, I take a forward looking posture betting on science and medicine to find the next biologic agents that will help manage my cancer or even better cure it, a distinct possibility.  

Unfortunately, it has become fashionable to bash Big Pharma.  Even the term seems to have a pejorative meaning. The acronym comes from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the lobbying arm of the industry.  If you use Google and begin to type the characters Big Pharma, the search engine automatically plugs in "Big Pharma conspiracy", not an objective, but leading search particularly for those trying to learn something.  I admit, I'm really not an objective source for information about Big Pharma.  I like these companies, these people and their noble mission, to build a profitable enterprise in the pursuit of better medical care.  I like the competitive landscape, their pursuit of growth and profit and a decent return for their investors.  Their profits create jobs, feed our families and pay our taxes.  I am an unwitting defender of Big Pharma because I'm interested in the truth.  Anytime I encounter one of those 'conspiracy theory' nutcases and ask for actual evidence, not conjecture, they seem to run and hide.

Look, I think pharmaceutical companies, all companies should answer questions concerning business practices. Similarly, political, government and religious institutions should be held accountable for their actions.  But this popular Big Pharma bashing goes well beyond what's fair, reasonable and well-deserved criticism.  I believe Big Pharma should fight back, but it seems they quietly go about their business, focusing on the tasks at hand.  Perhaps because many of the employees in the pharmaceutical industry are those bright kids we observed in school that didn't clown around, kept their head down and understood math and science better than most.  These are medical engineers who are motivated by getting the right answer, finding what is true, what works, what fails.  Just my opinion, but their DNA leans toward integrity. 

My positive prejudices about Big Pharma were confirmed again this week as I got to spend two days in a seminar and social scene with a particularly bright group of Pfizer employees, suppliers and customers that spoke openly and freely about what's happening in the emerging Personalized Medicine market.  

As a volunteer, unpaid Patient Advocate working along with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I was given a gracious invitation to attend this workshop that gave me an inside look at some of the key issues and opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry, their customers and the supply chain.  Topics explored include "Personalized Medicine" a variety of definitions depending upon your vantage point, access, providers and physicians, consumers, regulatory environment, financial considerations, The Affordable Care Act, the new health insurance exchanges quasi-governmental entities required by law and some discussions about how these new regulation will affect the pharmaceutical industry.

The most interesting part of this two day seminar/workshop was to learn more about "The Case for Personalized Medicine" from the Personalized Medicine Coalition.    Check it out.

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