My latest melanoma adventure has me in San Diego for back-to-back conferences over 10 days in two overlapping industries. It’s a long time to be away from the family, especially with a bit of the unknown hanging over us from the last scan – Tony Gwynn passing away from cancer the day I landed in Southern California was not the best omen to start the trip. The commitment was already in place and there was nothing to suggest my participation would alter treatments or my heath, so it was off to the land of 75 and sunny (with NO humidity!).
The Drug Information Association (DIA) is the global organization dedicated to the development and life cycle management of medical products – basically, the guys behind the scenes who help get a drug from the lab to the patient. DIA’s 50th Annual meeting brought together all of these businesses associated with pharmaceutical development process, and I got a chance to provide the patient perspective on what it’s like at the end of that life cycle. The convention focused less on the big pharma companies themselves and more on those who work with them — getting patients to enroll (a biggie), managing projects and documents, dealing with the FDA and other regulatory hurdles, etc.
Much like the panel discussion I wrote about from the SCOPE Summit in February, this talk had some similarities – Jamie Heywood was the conference keynote speaker, Christine Pierre moderated our session, and I even sat with Chris, another trial patient and panelist from SCOPE. The audience was smaller (we were just one track and spoke in front of about 125 people) and instead of trying to follow Jamie’s keynote, we were a dedicated session two days later.
The presentation went well, it seems. It’s kind of tough to judge if you are connecting with an audience, but there was a lot of participation in the Q&A, so someone must have found what we were saying interesting. It went so quickly that now I’m having a hard time remembering all of the questions. I fielded more questions than the other panelists; metastatic cancer apparently is the cleanup hitter in a lineup of clinical trial patients. There’s a highlight clip where I stutter “ya know” a bunch of times and talk a bit about clinical trial experience for Stage IV melanoma. I’m hoping to get my hands on some more extensive footage to give a better insight on how the participants educated each other with a pretty frank discussion on the difficulties in coupling patients and trials.