This is my first blog post; it is also about the first medical conference I attended: SIR 2015.
Just a little bit about me, I am a market research analyst with a keen interest in the field of interventional oncology. I have written a few reports that provide detail and insight to the products that are used in this space and the market dynamics for several geographies including the U.S, Europe, and Asia Pacific region.
Going into this conference, the biggest question I wanted an answer to was: How much more effective are premium embolization particles such as radioembolization spheres and drug-eluting beads in comparison to more cost-effective alternatives like microspheres or PVA particles when it comes to tumor embolization? There is a major difference in price, thousands of dollars vs hundreds of dollars per treatment, so the main question is: are they worth it?
A majority of the sessions didn't directly compare the different particle types head to head; rather they showed the result of using a particular particle to illustrate a technique for a particular case. There was a seminar that outlined all the current embolization particles that are currently used in tumor embolization but even that one didn't dive into the incremental effectiveness offered by the premium particles or discuss the costs and benefits associated with it. However, at the end of chemoembolization seminar, a debate on effectiveness of these premium products broke out. One interventional radiologist shared his thoughts regarding doxorubicin, the chemotherapeutic agent or drug in the drug-eluting beads. Through his experience he had not seen any additional benefits to using these particles when compared to traditional TACE, a belief that other interventional oncologists later echoed. Discussions on radioembolization were usually theoretical in nature with a few case examples. However, even the case examples didn't compare radioembolization to the other particle types. Through my learning at SIR, it seems to me that these premium products may only offer a slight advantage; however, larger head to head studies are necessary to prove otherwise.
As this was my first time at a medical conference, I thought I would share two key takeaways. One, there are many sessions that are crammed into a few days so this means that there will be times where you will have to decide between a few different sessions during a particular time slot, and choosing the wrong one has an opportunity cost so choose the right one! What I have learnt is that any session at a medical conference that starts with advanced is probably not a good choice for someone that does not have a medical degree. A few minutes in you will realize that this is not where you want to be and will spend the next half hour planning a clever escape strategy. Second, if your goal is to have a productive conversation with some of the sales people on the floor, your best bet is to go while the sessions are going on. During this time, most of the doctors will be attending sessions or delivering presentations and the sales teams will have time to talk to you. If you go during the scheduled breaks, it can get chaotic as everyone is on the floor.