The Top Ten US Locations for Pharma Events and Medical Seminars

With half of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies by revenue in the world, it’s no surprise that the US hosts some top-level pharmaceutical events and seminars. Whether you’re scouting locations for your company’s next event or trying to persuade your boss to send you to San Diego on a work trip, our top ten US locations will be sure to help you on your way!

Tom Dally, August 10, 2018

10. Los Angeles, CA

LA’s temperate winters and sunny summers make it easy to see why LA is an attractive location for most occasions. With more than 100 pharmaceutical companies calling LA home and a raft of top of the line venues, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Los Angeles Convention Center hosts on average 300 events a year. A state of the art option is JW Marriott Los Angeles which is hosting From Cranial to Spine: An Overview of Neurosurgical Topics for the Advanced Practice Provider is organised by American Association of Neurological Surgeons (ANNS) in August.

9. Seattle, WA
Pharmaceutical big shots Bristol-Myer Squibb and Novo Nordisk both have a presence in the Emerald City. In addition, Seattle is very much considered a hub for global health with the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Infectious Diseases Research Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Moreover, you have A-grade facilities such as the Washington State Convention Center, the Seattle Marriott Waterfront and the Bell Harbor International Conference Center to choose from. If that doesn't swing your vote, then the fish tossing at Pike Place Market or Rachel the bronze pig mascot might do it.


8. Chicago, IL

When you think of Chicago, you might automatically think deep dish pizza and sports teams with mixed track records, but would it surprise you to know that the Windy City employs more people in bioscience than either California and the east coast according to Ernst & Young. Pharma heavyweights Baxter, Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie and Takeda all have a presence there.

Chicago has a myriad of conference centres and event spaces. Particular highlights included McCormick Place which is the largest convention center in North America and hosting the upcoming American Academy of Ophthalmology’ Annual Meeting from 27th-30th Octoberthe historic Navy Pier and the Fairmont Chicago.

navy pier

7. Raleigh-Durham, NC

The North Carolina capital has seen a surge in pharmaceutical activity with big time pharmas Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and Novartis all enjoying the famed Southern hospitality. There are many conference centers and spaces where you’re able to soak up the charm including North Carolina Biotechnology Center Headquarters (Research Triangle Park) and Hamner Conference Center, and American Tobacco - the former tobacco factory which has recently been transformed into a one-million-sq.-ft entertainment district. Recent events held at the Research Triangle Park include the OpenTox USA 2018 and the upcoming NCBIO Annual Membership Meeting 2018 

6. Philadelphia, PA

If it was good enough as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, then I’d seriously consider hosting your next conference or event in Philly. With 15 leading pharmaceutical companies, 11 of which headquartered, Philadelphia is sure to meet all of your event planning expectations with many of the venues itself arguably being attractions in their own right. Upcoming events including the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre and 20th World Congress on Pediatric Oncology and Nursing


5. Maryland DC Metro Area

As well as being home to several federal agencies such as the National Institute on Health, the Federal Drug Administration, US Pharmacopeial Convention and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Maryland and DC area is a major hub for life sciences with more than 400 biotech companies based there. The nation's capital is hosting the 19th Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress at the Mandarin Oriental November 7-9th.   

4. New Jersey

Behind the power hitter states of Massachusetts and California, New Jersey’s economy is also centred on the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma giants Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Roche, Merck, Novartis, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer all have a presence within the Garden State. So its obvious there would be many pharma events including the 3rd Annual Precision Medicine Leaders Summit held at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson and Panagora Pharma’s Pharma CX Summit held in March which was described as “a great vehicle for learning about CX across customer segments” by Jenny Allen, Director, Customer Experience at AstraZeneca. 

3. San Diego, CA

Known for its sandy beaches, parks and warm climate, San Diego has seen a growth in pharma and biotech. GlaxoSmithKline, Genentech, Takeda and Thermo Fisher have a presence in San Diego. In particular, areas such as La Jolla are home to offices and research facilities for biotech companies. It also plays host to events such as the Outsourcing in Clinical Trials Southern California on held on 26th-27th September. 

San Diego also recently hosted the 17th San Diego BioPharma Conference & 6th Pacific Bio-Partnering by the Sino-American Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Professional Association held at the Hilton Del Mar.

2. San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Not surprisingly California features for the third time on our list with San Francisco leading from the front. The City by the Bay not only ranks 1st for innovative cities according to AT Kearney with the likes of Salesforce, Airbnb and Dropbox all calling it home, it also has some of the top pharmaceutical companies in the area such as Novartis, Bayer and Gilead Sciences. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare hour or two, be sure to check out some of San Fran’s delights such as Lombard Street, Alcatraz Prison and of course the Golden Gate Bridge.

Upcoming conferences are the Clinical Trials Patient Experience Summit 2018 12th-13th September at the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Francisco and EBD’s Biotech Showcase 7th-9th 2019 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.  The city also hosted JP Morgan’s 36th Annual Healthcare Conference .

san fran

1. Boston-Cambridge, MA

As expected, our top location for pharmaceutical locations is Boston. With over 10 pharmaceutical and biopharma companies based in Cambridge alone. Bloomberg Business ranked Massachusetts the #1 state for innovation so it’s not surprising there's a strong startup scene with over 2000 based. The City of Champions is home to many of the global pharma giants including Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck, Biogen-Idec and Novartis.

The highlight of the pharma and biotech calendar this year was BIO (Biotechnology Innovation Organisation) International Convention, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. With 18,300 attendees, 7,000 companies and over 1,000 speakers, the convention definitely was inline with #MakingBIOHistory as Rob Wright of Life Science Leader noted.


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