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[Reporter's Notebook] Korean firms found something missing in ‘virtual’ ASCO 2020
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.06.08 16:54
  • Updated 2020.06.09 09:44
  • comments 0

The 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting completed its first online meeting last week.

Despite its abrupt switch to an online format due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, the conference seems to have responded quite well to the change, publishing many noteworthy pieces of research.

However, quite a few Korean biopharmaceutical companies said that the conference fell somewhat short of its reputation this year, pointing out that it was hard for non-U.S. firms to participate in the conference as actively as before.

Local participants in ASCO aimed to reach their investors and those interested in their candidate substances through the conference. These firms said they experienced little difficulties communicating with existing and potential partners in previous years.

This year, however, the firms are known to have had a hard time setting up such meetings.

"It was hard to set a one-on-one meeting with multinational companies during the ASCO 2020," a local biopharmaceutical company CEO told Korea Biomedical Review, on condition of anonymity. "While previous ASCO sessions gave us a window to set such up meetings, this year’s 'virtual networking' platform, which allowed companies to chat or schedule a one-on-one video call with other attendees, ASCO staff, and industry representatives, seemed to have not considered non-U.S. firms."

This may not have been a problem during previous conferences as everyone was stateside. Still, this year it was hard for us to arrange such meetings due to the time zone difference as all the optimal time slots had already been filled out, he added.

The CEO stressed that while it is understandable that the conference was centered on the U.S. timetable, a little more consideration of non-U.S. firms might have helped them reach their full potential during the meeting.

Another local biopharmaceutical official also noted that the virtual format had made the conference lose one of its biggest beneficial factors of meeting potential global partners.

"While setting up one-on-one meetings is an important part of international conferences, most local firms reach an agreement with other global partners as they walk by their poster presentations during the conference," the official said, also wanting not to be named. "Regarding our company, the various deals made with multinational pharmaceutical companies were also reached through a similar process."

This could not be the case this year under an online format. The company was unable to reach the same results through other contact methods such as emails, which was quite frustrating for the company, he added.

However, the official stressed that it was still great to publish researches during the ASCO conference.

"Most companies publish their clinical trial results at ASCO as it proves that it has been filtered by one of the most prestigious institutions," he said. "Even though the conference was held online this year, we were able to confirm that ASCO still has the best authority and selection rules in the world."


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