As I wind down my career I wanted to reflect on my favorite project. In 2000 I thought there was the need for a well organized meeting of DTC professionals. At the time there were several attempts made by conference companies to run DTC meetings. The problem I had with them was they were developed by companies that ran many diverse topical conferences across many industries. They had no real inside knowledge of what mattered to DTC professionals.
After Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert in 2000 I decided to try to go out on my own and focus on DTC. Having worked on Lipitor and Rezulin, both major advertised drugs, I had a good working knowledge of DTC issues. In 2001 we started the DTC National in Las Vegas. It was a success but I had many ideas to grow it and in subsequent years it grew each year as DTC spending grew.
As I looked through past agendas I am proud of our diverse group of speakers, many were drug industry critics such as Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, Joseph Kennedy, and Henry Waxman. I always welcomed the anti-drug side because we as an industry need to be open to criticism and change. One of my favorite moments was the debate between Ralph Nader and Pfizer President Pat Kelly, when sparks flew as Nader held nothing back.
Another great moment was when David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner admitted he was wrong to oppose DTC. Much discussion over the years centered on political threats to DTC, which are never more relevant than this year.
Many of our media gurus over the years have lambasted the industry for being too slow to adopt digital media. Most of these experts predicted the end of television but most have been wrong, at least to date, as the media spending numbers prove. While media futurists are always interesting, they are often wrong.
What is most gratifying about the DTC National is it brings industry practitioners together to network. Most of us change jobs fairly often and having a broad contact base is essential when one is merged put of a job, or when a job change is desired. I urge all DTC professionals to get known in the industry. Speak at industry events, write articles for the trade press, join a panel or just come to conferences and be friendly. To my pharmaceutical marketing colleagues I recommend you get to know suppliers and agencies, as one day you will need them for job contacts. As someone whose company was acquired, I know that having a strong industry wide reputation goes a long way.
So for those of you who have never been to the DTC National, I welcome you to try it out. While everyone can find reasons to stay in the office, the three days spent learning from your peers will be well worth the time.