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Generic Drugmakers Are Puttin' On The Ritz

At the risk of offending our gracious hosts here at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association's Silver Anniversary Meeting, I wanted to talk about the seemingly incongruous venue for the event.

Ritz Carlton Naples
Source: ritzcarlton.com
Ritz Carlton Naples

It's being held at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL.

The generic drug industry is all about low-cost medicine. But its meeting at this exclusive property on the beach is anything but low cost.

And in this economy and market, as some companies (banks) have recently learned the hard way, appearances count.

The generic drugmakers aren't getting any TARP money, at least that I know of. But a heckuva lot of Medicare (taxpayer) dollars are spent on their products.

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The head of the organization says this place was booked a couple of years ago as a special-occasion destination for the 25th annual meeting. And it would've cost way too much money to break the contract. Around a million bucks, I'm told.

So, here they are. And the hotel, owned by Host—the publicly-traded REIT— is very glad they're here. The manager of the property says his meeting business is down a whopping 45 percent so far this quarter over the same period a year ago.

And he says he's had to cut back the hours of bartenders, cater waiters, cleaning staff, etc. The GPhA, you could argue, is helping the hotel, its workers and the local economy.

The group says around 450 people are registered. Surprisingly, I'm told that's up a bit from last year.

But with consolidation expected to continue in this sub-sector, I'm not sure you'll see as many people at next year's meeting—wherever it might be held.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com