As every year, June saw the annual meeting of the Italian pharmaceutical community in Rimini, to attend the 59° AFI Symposium. This year the symposium counted about 1,300 participants, many from Italian scientific, trading and entrepreneurship associations invited and collaborating with AFI, and 110 sponsors showing their technologies in the exhibition area. Numbers that make the AFI Symposium the most important meeting in Italy for the professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry. Students can attend the entire Symposium free of charge, and free is also the access to the exhibition area.

The theme chosen by the Associazione Farmaceutici Industria for 2019 was “Innovation and globalisation strategies for the pharmaceutical industry”: three days of debates on the impact of advanced technologies on research, manufacturing and therapeutic applications, and the consequent need of developing new business strategies and competencies, as well as new forms of investment in material and human resources.

The global scenario of advanced therapies (ATMPs) is rapidly evolving, and it is critical for the biopharmaceutical industry to keep up with these changes. Choices are strongly determined by the global market, and the ability to successfully manage competition involves at the same time the consideration of both emerging countries (for economic reasons) and small innovative companies (especially in the biotech sector).

A rich program and many opportunities for networking

The AFI Symposium counted this year, as usual, a lectio magistralis and a plenary session; the first speech was given by Maurizio De Cicco, CEO of Roche Italy, discussing the many challenges companies have to face to maintain their competitiveness in the above mentioned rapidly evolving scenario. Future opportunities for the governance of the pharmaceutical expenditure was discussed during the plenary session, that saw experts debating the possible ways to ensure sustainability for healthcare systems in the era of personalised medicine.

The program of the Symposium also included 17 technical sessions, covering all aspects of the development and production of medicinal products. Many hot topics have been considered from different points of view in more than one session, i.e. issues in the field of manufacturing (mainly serialisation and innovative processing), regulatory and pharmacovigilance, the implementation of new technologies and drug delivery systems, the problems linked to quality compliance, supply chain and GDPs, the evolving scenarios for clinical trials, ATMPs and biotechnologies and, finally, the preparation to the entry into force of the Medical Devices new regulation. Sponsors – carefully selected among those able to present innovative solutions, products or services – had the opportunity to present their activities during 14 dedicated workshops.

Many special initiatives to expand the network

The “Start-up square” is the annual meeting where new, innovative companies can present their activities and projects: an important opportunity for networking with other stakeholders to exchange views and build partnerships with investors, industrial partners or customers. The commitment to develop innovative technological solution to support pharmaceutical activities was rewarded with the formal recognition of the Innovation Prize to the best technological solution. Another prize was assigned to the best poster presented among the 30 participating to the Poster session of the symposium.
The working opportunities opened in the pharmaceutical industrial sector for young graduates in life sciences disciplines were discussed in three sessions specifically dedicated to students, new graduates and PhDs, during which they had the opportunity to meet with experts from industry and research institutions. In particular, AFI experienced members outlined the professional profiles which are required today by the pharmaceutical industry, and the trends expected for the next few years.

EIPG at the 59° AFI Symposium

EIPG president Claude Farrugia was invited to attend the AFI Symposium. He contributed to the debate with a presentation on the “Impact of the last mile”, given within Session I, centred on the serialisation process.
EIPG is expected to play a more pro-active role in the organisation of the next edition of the AFI Symposium, in 2020, that will correspond to the 60th anniversary of AFI foundation. In fact, during this year meeting it was agreed that EIPG will act as the connection point to invite representatives of other European associations, with the ambitious goal to make the AFI Symposium more European.