MSL Society Launches Career Center

On August 22nd the Medical Science Liaison Society will launch its interactive job board, the MSL Society Career Center!

With the organization’s dedicated focus on the Medical Science Liaison career, the new MSL Society Career Center will offer its members – and the global MSL community– an easy-to-use and highly-targeted resource for online employment connections.

For MSL job seekers, the MSL Society is here to help you excel in your career, to reach the pinnacle of your abilities, and become an indispensable leader in the field of medical affairs.  We recognize that MSL Society members are not just ordinary job seekers; they are part of a society of industry professionals who care about their career development and stay informed about changes within our industry.  Our members represent the brain trust of our professional community and rely on our association to excel.  Whether you need us right now or later in your career journey, the new MSL Society Career Center will serve as a useful tool for job seekers throughout their careers.

For employers, the MSL Society understands that you work hard to attract and retain great employees, so we want to work just as hard to help you find your next high performers in MSL roles and medical affairs management.  The new MSL Society Career Center will provide a wider range of services and opportunities for employers to recruit and attract first-rate talent through a highly-targeted search, with a minimum expenditure of time and resources.

As the voice for the global MSL profession, the MSL Society will continue to evolve and function as the primary source for both MSL members and professionals in the industry.   We invite you to discover the advantages of posting your MSL job or resume by visiting the new MSL Society Career Center on August 22nd!


New MSL Society White Paper: Implications of the Sunshine Act on Medical Science Liaisons and their Companies

Earlier this year, the MSL Society had the privilege of collaborating with the Rutgers University Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program on a new study centering on the recently enacted Physician Payments Sunshine Provision, commonly known in the life sciences industry as the Sunshine Act.

The Sunshine Act, part of sweeping healthcare reform in the United States, details a host of new regulations whereby life sciences companies must provide detailed tracking and reporting to the American public payments made to medical professionals by their commercial and medical affairs divisions.

For the survey, the MSL Society and the Rutgers fellowship program were interested in finding the emerging implications for Medical Science Liaisons as they go about their work in the U. S. pharmaceutical industry.  The purpose of the research was to determine the type and level of impact that the Sunshine act is having and will have on MSL interactions with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and other healthcare providers.

As the study shows, Medical Science Liaisons can provide keen insights on this element of healthcare reform, as they play critical and central roles to industry’s ongoing relationship development with leaders in the medical community. The Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program and the MSL Society are pleased with the response generated from the American MSL community, with a total of 167 MSLs representing 40 companies participating in the study.

Some of the early insights include the fact that 73 percent of MSLs report that their companies have instituted standardized reporting systems for tracking payments to physicians and academic institutes, while half of respondents said that their companies are formalizing their training around the Sunshine Act’s requirements.

We have compiled the survey results, along with particular insights gleaned from the MSLs’ responses, in a 15-page report.  Fresh off the presses, members of the MSL Society can find the report in the resources section of the society’s website at www.themsls.org/whitepapers.

The MSL Society invites its members to discuss the report and its findings at our LinkedIn group, Medical Science Liaison and Medical Affairs Networkers.


Delivering Value to Medical Affairs Professionals

From time to time, the MSL Society blog will feature testimonials from its members, outlining from their own perspectives the benefits of membership and the society’s events and services.  Allison Murphy is a member of the MSL Society, and she also plays a key role on the organization’s global board of advisors.

By Allison Murphy

I am proud to say that I joined the Medical Science Liaison Society in its inaugural year of 2012.  After spending a decade as an MSL at Eli Lilly, I see multiple benefits of the society for those currently working in this critical role that unifies life sciences companies and the medical community in the pursuit of better treatment options and health outcomes for patients worldwide.

As with any role, it’s important to know first-hand how others are succeeding.  I believe the society gives MSLs a strong platform for sharing best practices, so much so, that I see the MSL Society ultimately as a conduit for innovation to make the MSL role even more critical to the advancement of medicine. Right now, there are no global standard operating procedures for MSLs, with each company and its force of liaisons operating within uniquely-crafted operations frameworks.  To my mind, the MSL Society is now well-positioned to guide a global set of SOPs to drive companies and their people to new levels of success.

Where I see the highest potential impact for the MSL Society is in the area of training and development.  With the competitive nature of the pharmaceutical business, I believe the MSL Society can serve as a neutral organization that fosters development of the individual to enhance the MSL function.  As the MSL Society continues to position itself in this way, it can serve as a recognized governing body for training and development for new and experienced MSLs.  Also, I see the organization as primed for piloting new programs at particular companies, since the MSL Society boasts a diverse membership of many tenured people well-equipped to advise and mentor companies and individuals as the role continues to expand globally.

The recent global conference in Philadelphia is a great example of the applied value of the MSL Society and its programs. I daresay no one left that event without at least a few key takeaways that broadened their perspective and gave them tools to work with in the field.  The level of experience and tenure of the speakers panel were of the highest caliber. In addition to their credentials, each speaker’s work led to a real topical diversity among the various talks, and I could see that each attendee was engaged and participating during each session.

I perceived the participation levels to be as high as I’d ever seen at a meeting of this type, and I would owe this perception to notion that each talk was very comprehensive within a targeted topical area. This allowed for deep discussions that remained very pertinent to the MSL role and made best practices sharing a real hallmark of the event.

Finally, just as important as the content the MSL Society provided was also the generous amount of networking time allotted throughout the event.  It’s great when an organization has the confidence in itself to know that people gather at these events to not only learn from content provided by the promoting organization, but to also learn from each other. I can tell that this is very much an ingrained value at the MSL Society, and I will work to ensure that this value remains front and center for future generations of members.

Allison Murphy is a global business development consultant at Thought Leader Select, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based key opinion leader strategy company.  After spending more than 10 years in sales and MSL roles at Eli Lilly, Allison now consults with commercial and medical affairs executives on strategies for more optimized collaborations and engagements with thought leaders and centers of excellence in the medical community.  A registered nurse and graduate of Villanova University, Allison lives in the greater Boston area.


The Emerging Need for Specific MSL Standards, Training

By Dr. Samuel Dyer

The role of the medical science liaison (MSL) is earning increased recognition for the vital part these professionals play in the success of life sciences companies, from biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms to medical device and diagnostics concerns worldwide. With this increased recognition comes an extra burden of maintaining the credibility of the role, through the training and activities undergone and executed by those performing as MSLs.

Once seen as simply another channel by which the life sciences industry interacts with the medical community, the MSL role has become both central and critical to the success of many, if not most, companies and their respective portfolios. Unlike their commercial counterparts, MSLs often work with the medical community, both key opinion leaders (KOLs) and clinical and research practitioners, throughout a product’s lifecycle. MSLs serve their companies with versatility, as their work applies to multiple external and internal activities, such as ensuring products are utilized effectively with patients, serving as scientific advisors to their corporate colleagues, In perhaps their most important capacity, MSLs serve as scientific peers and resources to key opinion leaders, as many MSLs have medical and scientific educational backgrounds and work experience.

As of now, industry-wide guidelines specific to MSLs and their activities are virtually non-existent.  There are no specific training nor external compliance guidelines that specifically govern the role nor its activities. As the MSL role continues to expand its industry influence, programs must emerge to meet these needs. In the meantime, MSLs are performing within broader, industry-wide guidelines, particularly in the United States.  These guidelines have heavily influenced MSL deployment over the last decade.

Currently, MSLs in the United States must perform within compliance guidelines published under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services Officer of Inspector General.  The OIG guidelines, first published as the Compliance Program Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in 2003, were a regulatory reaction that to concerns that traditional commercial sales and marketing activities in the pharmaceutical industry could potentially influence scientific or medical activities.

The OIG guidelines had a huge impact on the MSL profession, since before their enforcement, most MSL teams and their activities were housed in the marketing or sales divisions of life sciences companies. As a result of these guidelines, companies created distinct firewall separating commercial activities from MSL work, deemed medical affairs activities.  Thus, the OIG guidelines played a large role in shaping the current definition of the MSL role and their activities, as many pharmaceutical companies redeployed their MSL teams and moved them away from commercially-aligned departments.

As a result, most companies reorganized their MSL teams into separate Medical Affairs divisions. This firewalling of MSLs and their commercial counterparts helped solidify the MSL role as an unbiased resource for KOLs, making the KOL relationship imperative as the primary role for most MSL teams.

Recently, the MSL Society conducted a global survey of MSLs, with 270 respondents from 29 countries around the world.  The focus of the survey was to gain insight into the range of activities that define MSL engagement, and discover their primary focus, no matter the location.  In the survey, the MSL Society outlined multiple activities that MSLs are known to execute in their roles, and respondents were asked to select all of those in which they currently participate.

We were very interested to find that, even in the absence of any guidelines or standards that specifically address the MSL role, it’s abundantly clear that medical affairs executives are operating within a set of unwritten global standards and focus for their MSLs’ activities. Although all MSLs around the world engage in multiple activities, the vast majorities of these activities are identical in nature and primarily revolve around engaging with KOLs. In fact, over 98 percent of MSLs reported that they had primary responsibility for KOL relationship management, while about 92 percent reported educating KOLs on a regular basis within the demands of their role.

As the MSL role increasingly becomes recognized as a crucial to the success of companies, it will be necessary to have guidelines that specifically address the MSL role, their training and activities. The MSL Society will have a role to play in the process of implementing global, regional, and national standards to address industry needs, through training and advisory services, as well as galvanizing support for such standards within our global community.