Big pharma & beignets

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I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions in New Orleans this summer. It’s the largest conference on diabetes in the world and there were over 16,000 people in attendance.

I had actually never been to a medical conference before and to attend one that was as huge as ADA was pretty cool. Work had me attending as many of the presentations and sessions as possible, which was both interesing and dull. It was all a bit hectic as the venue was massive and going from one end to the other took 10-15mins walking..!

The experience of it all was great – and being on the industry side of it all was definitely different. Being from the UK, where medications are all paid for by the NHS, it was weird to be in America, where the promotion of medications is so liberal everywhere you look. The conference centre had booths set up by different pharma companies, each marketing and promoting their drug. It was a big eye-opener on how much money gets put into the pharmaceutical industry. Despite working in the field for 7 months now, it only really occurred to me when I was in New Orleans how much of it is about sales. Probably a little naive of me, really. But that’s not to say the work done by the pharma industry hasn’t helped those who need it.

I did make me think that I’d be better suited to be on the flipside of things. Being a clinician and collaborating with big pharma, as opposed to being immersed in the industry completely. I don’t know if healthcare marketing is something I’m totally ready for right now!

New Orleans itself was a blast, though. Great city with great food (I totally recommend an iced coffee + beignets at Cafe du Monde and a po’boy from NOLA Poboys) and people. The weather was hot and humid (along with thunderstorms and torrential rain) but I was lucky that the sun was shining on my days off from work to go out and enjoy it. Even got to see some ‘gators…

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