Due to today’s rapidly evolving scientific information and consistently emerging therapies, an integrated medical team that includes Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) as part of the launch leadership and strategy is vital to assure corporate and product awareness. MSLs also assist with overcoming challenges and staying abreast of the latest advances in therapeutic areas, product trends, best practices, regulations, and outcomes, and clearly define therapeutic unmet needs and product differentiation to assure stakeholder engagement.
Increasing Challenges for Brands and Their Medical Teams
The pharmaceutical marketplace presents increasingly complex challenges for brands and their field medical teams:
- Intense competition makes it difficult for brands to gain a strong scientific share of voice and achieve visibility in a crowded environment.
- Limited access hampers the establishment and maintenance of relationships with crucial stakeholders, such as key opinion leaders (KOLs) and other healthcare professionals.
- Clinically astute, integrated medical affairs teams with strong business acumen can gain insights, provide disease state education, and help shape a successful and compliant cross-functional strategy.
- Healthcare providers (HCPs) and payers are inundated with data and information and may struggle to appreciate the clinical differentiation of a product without the benefit of credible scientific peer-to-peer discussion.
- Managing diverse product portfolios requires significant internal resources to maintain the required subject matter expertise.
- Rapid innovation demands continuous education for field medical teams.
- Balancing business priorities while adopting a patient-centric approach poses challenges.
To address these issues, field medical teams must engage in scientific exchange, raise awareness of unmet medical needs, drive therapy adoption based on strong, clinically relevant data, and ensure positive patient outcomes through compliant cross-functional collaboration. Companies must bring MSLs to the table early and keep them there throughout the product life cycle to ensure success through medically informed strategic planning, strong KOL relationships, and expert front-line scientific exchange.
Utilizing MSLs During Prelaunch Can Determine Future Success
Launching a new therapy is a fluid process, but there are customary steps. During prelaunch, internal communication of medical insights may optimize the time to complete clinical trials and enhance outcomes by decreasing protocol deviations. Identifying key questions for medical response formation provides additional data for publication planning. Additionally, MSLs provide internal disease and product training for internal stakeholders.
While MSL contributions are often not recognized as an asset until later in the commercialization process, if MSLs are left out of the steps above, corporations delay the growth of the product’s Scientific Share of Voice (SSoV), which is a critical pre-launch success factor. SSoV helps drive awareness of unmet medical needs, contributes to thought leader advocacy for the product, stimulates disease state discussions, and provides information to impact strategic planning. Core Integrated Medical Affairs and MSL activities include:
- Clinical Trial Support: MSLs help with the clinical trial accrual process by identifying sites, ensuring the investigators keep the trial top of mind, and inspiring competitive accrual. MSLs provide investigators with scientific updates regarding congress data and publications. They also assist with general site education by helping clinicians understand the product’s mechanism of action and where it fits in the overall competitive treatment landscape.
- Evidence Generation: MSLs collect medical insights from clinicians and advocacy leaders that may provide the necessary foundation for real-world evidence studies, including Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) and Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) research studies. Both provide key data and insights to demonstrate improved outcomes and strategically inform important healthcare decisions while extending the data life cycle for the drug.
- Therapeutic Area/Unmet Strategy: MSLs can create the blueprint for success with a high-science product launch. Managing important tasks such as translating the scientific data derived from clinical trials into clinical-relevant information for scientific exchange enhances the compelling product scientific story and strategic medical objectives, and clearly articulates the patient journey for the clinicians.
- Shape the Market: MSLs can boost stakeholder engagement, speed up conversions from interactions and develop the solution to an unmet medical need through astute business acumen combined with subject matter expertise. MSLs craft compelling scientific narratives that resonate with key stakeholders, such as patients, providers and payers, and leverage data for optimal connectivity.
- Establishing Credibility: MSLs are highly educated and possess in-depth knowledge of the disease state and products in the therapeutic landscape. Their expertise provides accurate, fair, balanced and reliable information for healthcare professionals while establishing trust and credibility in their relationships. In addition, MSLs can respond to unsolicited medical requests with the most up-to-date information to support the scientific rationale, efficacy and safety of their products.
EVERSANA’s MSLs Overcome Industry Challenges and Set the Stage for Success
MSLs are an imperative part of the pharmaceutical commercialization process for high-science therapies, helping bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and effectively treating patients in need. EVERSANA helps companies achieve this by incorporating MSLs and utilizing their expertise early in the pre-launch phase as members of the launch team leadership is essential to the success of complex drug launches and to the overall improvement of health outcomes.
We quickly assemble MSL teams for our partners and guide them through implementing brand strategies for their products. We prioritize recruiting and retaining the right individuals who fully understand specific therapeutic areas and disease states, and who will create a greater SSoV and brand harmony among the providers we work with.
EVERSANA is extremely flexible with the size of companies and types of compounds we can work with. We partner with small biotech companies focused on the scientific development of a compound and putting in place a complete medical affairs infrastructure, and larger or midsize companies with medical affairs departments already in place; therefore, we solely help implement the field medical portion.
By providing therapeutic-wide education and combining first-class clinical and business acumen during prelaunch and throughout the product’s entire life cycle, EVERSANA’s team of MSLs brings invaluable benefits to every player involved in the treatment of a patient.
About the author:
Susan Giacalone, MSN, MSL-BC
Susan Giacalone, MSN, MSL-BC is the Vice President of Medical Deployment at EVERSANA and has built, led, and re-invented numerous regional and national field medical teams to raise Scientific Share of Voice for over two decades.
During her career, she has garnered great industry success building successful field medical teams as a field-based MSL, regional director, and National Director at Schering Plough, Novartis, Lexicon, Tersera, and MacroGenics. Susan is skilled in building and developing top-performing field medical teams across both domestic and international markets, Her CV includes 10 Peer Reviewed Medical Publications, 1 book chapter, and multiple Field Medical invited presentations.
She has been an award winner for strategy, innovation, scientific acumen, and clinical trials support and was honored as the MSL Society U.S. Manager of the Year in 2019.