Arizona is a long way. Phoenix, Arizona to be precise. A very long way. I had to fly last weekend. On the Saturday. A very long way to travel on a Saturday.
Arizona is also hot. Very hot. And dry. Very dry. But everyone I met was very helpful. The officers on Immigration duty – no less – were polite, friendly and genuinely interested. They even offered free advice about where to go, what to see, and the importance of sun protection and water intake.
I was there last week for a Science Conference/Trade Show. It was only my second ever trade show. The last one was this time last year. It felt different last week. Of course that my just be because I feel different a year on. But my sense of the mood in Phoenix was quite different…more positive.
I spoke with investment analysts. I spoke with our sales force and with our scientists. I spoke with partner clients. I spoke with big pharma and with small biotech. I even managed to attend a couple of the science sessions. The mood in Phoenix was quite different…more positive. Not over confidence. Just more positive.
The pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve. And this is as good as it is important. We have all experienced change. Change nearly always feels hard…but we nearly always end up in a better place. We are born survivors and we always find a way to adapt.
I am not sure if there is inherently more work going on in the Research phase of R&D. Or whether there is just more of the existing work being carried out externally from pharma. Either way the feeling was definitely more positive all around Phoenix.
And this is a good thing. Not just for us who partner with pharma. But for everyone associated with the industry. Including patients. After all, a more healthy pharmaceutical industry would suggest more and better drugs becoming available for patients. And this is what everything we do is all about.
More companies seemed to be talking about more interesting and more exciting data on their projects and portfolios. Nobody is taking anything for granted yet. And we have all seen false dawns, and have experienced false hope. If anything I would say that the increased (whatever scale that is measured by) positivity and confidence is balanced by increased determination to continue to do good science and to make good decisions. I even came across one Pharma Company who had a group of decision scientists. I have never heard of decision scientists let alone met one – that would be worth arranging.
My other impression of last week’s event was one of increased partnership. Last year just felt more antagonistic. Hard to put my finger on really. Just that last year there seemed to be more frustration and more animated discussion. From everyone. Last week there seemed to be more hand-shaking and problem solving. I still came across issues and differences in views…but also more of a desire to resolve and move forward.
As we left Phoenix I found myself thinking. I doubt there are better scientists now than there were before. Yes – I am sure we have all learned from our mistakes. And yes – technology always moves on. But what has happened? Really. Better science. Better decisions. Better teamwork. That’s what I think.
I fell asleep on my flight home within what seemed like two minutes of taking off. I woke up what seemed like two minutes before we landed. I had slept well and felt good. I thought again. I still feel positive about my week in Phoenix, Arizona.