Asembia Meeting Celebrated Its 20th Year

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The splashy meeting with more than 7,000 people in attendance reflects the growth of the specialty pharmacy sector.

Specialty pharmacy, once a niche in the U.S. healthcare, has become major sector, and Asembia specialty pharmacy meeting has grown with it.

Last week more than 7,000 people attended the 20th version of the Asembia meeting, which was held at plush Wynn and Encore Las Vegas resort in Las Vegas. The attendees were plied with free food and drink in the exhibit hall and treated to a lavish party the evening of the meeting’s second day at the Encore Beach Club.

People meeting and greeting at the Asembia meeting last week in Las Vegas.

People meeting and greeting at the Asembia meeting last week in Las Vegas.

The Asembia meeting is known for networking, and many attendees fill their days with successive meetings, with the educational sessions serving mainly as a backdrop to true purpose of the meeting: making business connections that might lead to deals.

William McRaven, a retired four-star U.S. Navy admiral who commanded the troops that conducted the 2011 raid in Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, was the keynote speaker. McRaven talked about life lessons learned from his training as a Navy SEAL and from his career that were only peripherally related to healthcare.

McRaven, recalling his visit with a severely injured veteran at Walter Reed hospital, told the audience of several thousand in the hotel’s largest meeting room to inspire hope whenever they get the chance. “I tell folks out there, you're probably not going to get a chance in your life to capture Saddam Hussein or rescue a Captain Phillips or get a bin Laden. But every single one of you — every single one — will have an opportunity to make a phone call or write a letter, to give a pat on the back, to give somebody hope. Don't ever, ever pass up that opportunity. You have no idea of the cascading effect.”

The 60 educational sessions covered topic ranging machining and artificial intelligence to biosimilar to digital health to value-based contracting. Although they are not specialty drug, the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) drugs came up often because the number of prescriptions for them is soaring and that increase has payers looking for ways to manage the cost.

“We've never seen anything like this in the past. If we thought that the hep C market was a tsunami, this is a mega tsunami,” said Doug Long, MBA, the vice president, industry relations, of IQVIA, said during his general session presentation.

The meeting, the official name for which is the AXS24, had 24 sponsors at the platinum level as of April 3, according to the website for the meeting. The group included many of the major drug companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi, Eli Lilly and AbbVie.

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