Case Study: Events: Toxikon

Toxikon, a private Boston area company,  specializing in pre-clinical and early stage testing services for the medical device industry, wanted to expand its services into the growing biotechnology arena. The company asked us to inexpensively increase its visibility and credibility among biotechnology leaders. Because Toxikon worked behind the scenes to provide testing services to other companies, it did not have discoveries or major achievements of its own about which we could generate media coverage or other publicity.

We knew that the Food and Drug Administration had recently embarked on what it called the “Critical Path Initiative.” The initiative was aimed at finding ways to improve early-stage testing procedures in order to help biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies bring drugs to market more quickly, cheaply and safely. The Toxikon Vice President had considerable expertise on the subject. We decided to hold an event that would exhibit her knowledge and authority to biotechnology industry leaders.

HarrisCom/CSG contacted the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (the state’s biotechnology industry association) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suggest an event that would feature a national FDA speaker and a panel discussion to be introduced and moderated the Toxikon vice-president. The overall goal would be to educate Massachusetts’s biotechnology leaders about the Critical Path initiative.

Both the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MBC) and the FDA were enthusiastic. The MBC offered to hold the event at its headquarters in Cambridge, to do all of the advertising, and to provide refreshments. The FDA agreed to send a high-level speaker from the Commissioner’s office in Washington. The agency requested that the talk and panel discussion be followed by roundtable discussions, in which the industry participants would form small groups to discuss the Critical Path Initiative. The MBC would tape and transcribe the discussions and submit them to the FDA in time to meet an August 1 comment period deadline.

HarrisCom/CSG wrote an invitation and, with the MBC, invited panelists, who included the Senior Vice President of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Massachusetts and a dean from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences. The MBC sent several notices about the event to its members.

The event, called the “Critical Path Discussion Forum,” was held on Tuesday, July 20, 2004. Although it was a hot day in the middle of vacation season, the half-day session attracted approximately 50 biotechnology executives at no cost to our client.

It was a “win-win-win-win” situation.

  • The FDA got the opportunity to explain its initiative and to gain support and feedback from one of the nation’s major biotechnology industry groups.
  • The MBC was able to provide an unusual educational and communication opportunity for the industry.
  • The participants welcomed the opportunity to learn from and advise a high-level FDA official.
  • Toxikon gained considerable visibility in the biotechnology industry by moderating the panel and networking at the event—as well in the series of invitations sent to MBC members.

In assessing the event, the Toxikon Vice President said:  “The Critical Path Discussion Forum was an important and creative first step in what promises to be an exciting campaign to enhance Toxikon’s recognition among a key group of potential new customers.”

We won an International Communicator Award for the event.