At a glance: ABPI Annual Dinner

And I am interested in a trade association’s beanfest because? Because the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s yearly gala dinner is rather more than that. Getting 1,200 people in a single room means it’s a premium networking opportunity for pharma companies and their communications advisers.

Alright, when is it?

Next Thursday night, 1 April, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane.

Not just another night on the rubber chicken circuit, then?

I think Grosvenor House – or Le Meridien Grosvenor House, to give it its full name – might take exception to that. This deluxe hotel offers luxury with professional service.

That sounds suspiciously like a plug.

Actually, yes, it’s from the hotel’s website. But it holds scores of big functions each year (including the PRWeek Awards, the PR industry oscars), so it is doing something right.

What sort of entertainment can guests expect?

It depends whether you think Lord Warner counts as entertainment, but the parliamentary under-secretary of state for health will be giving the keynote speech. The ABPI president, Dr John Patterson, will also speak.

High-grade stuff.

Maybe not in a song-and-dance-act type of way. But the dinner has historically been used as a platform for new policy. In 2000, the then health secretary Alan Milburn announced the setting-up of a task force designed to strengthen the competitiveness of the UK pharma industry. And last year Dr Patterson slammed the NHS for failing to implement National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance.

And then it’s on to the charity casino?

Er, no. After the dinner and speeches is the chance to mingle.

How do I get to go?

If you have to ask that, you’ll probably be at home washing your hair. You need to be from an ABPI member company or be invited as a guest of one. And there are only occasional single seats left now. To guarantee a table, you needed to get your act together three months ago.

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