Dec
23

10 Great Quotes That Will Inspire MSLs Around The World in 2015

546351_10151314724573550_1333252963_n1Are you busy making your New Year resolutions or have you already made some? Anyway, MSL Society blog is sharing 10 thought provoking quotes that might inspire you to become more in 2015. Setting some great goals these days is the best opportunity to bring changes in you that you always wanted to happen.

We wish you a Happy Holiday Season and prosperity in the new year.

1. “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” Charles Dickens

2. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”. Peter Drucker

3. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

4. “People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie

5. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, – Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” – Marianne Williamson

6. “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer

7. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

8. “The work of the individual still remains the spark that moves mankind ahead even more than teamwork.” – Igor Sikorsky

9. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

10. “Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It’s the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” – Stephen Covey

Nov
24

What You Don’t Know About Communication Can Hurt You

commumication-skillsWhen Morunda consults with a client about the recruiting requirements for a medical science liaison position (MSL), the applicants who have the least success at landing jobs don’t have strong people skills and are ineffective communicators. It is assumed that any candidate seeking a medical career already has sufficient academic qualifications, depending on the position — such as an M.D. or master’s — but the determinant of whether an applicant lands the job is his or her ability to communicate.
Book smarts are a given, but people smarts and emotional intelligence appear to be in shorter supply. We have analyzed candidates who have been rejected by clients for MSL positions, and we have found that 83 percent were deemed unqualified based on their lack of communication skills.
Some suggestions on how MSLs may improve their people skills were written about 80 years ago by Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
An MSL should never, openly criticize a physician for being wrong. A doctor convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. There is not a doctor in the world who wants to hear that he or she is wrong. How, then, can we get our message across? Stories are one of the most effective ways to get your point across without pushing your message too strongly. MSLs should use the same methods that have been used since time immemorial. Zhuangzi — an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables that is one of the foundational texts of Daoism) contains the fable “The Death of Wonton” (“Hùndùn zhī sǐ” 渾沌之死), which illustrates the dangers Zhuangzi saw in going against the innate nature of things. We are not suggesting that MSLs start communicating in abstract fables, but to tell relevant evidence-based medicine (EBM) narratives that communicate ideas. All great communicators can use stories to illustrate a point.
MSLs should speak of third-party stories that illustrate the point that is trying to be made. It is only natural for listeners to put themselves into the shoes of a story’s principals. MSLs must remember that when speaking to doctors, fast is slow and slow is fast. A relationship takes time to create, but once it’s made, the partnership is sustainable. If we rush, push and insist, then no matter how relevant or important the information may be, it will fall on deaf ears.
A surefire way to fail with a physician is to say that he or she is wrong. It is much better to develop a relationship over time. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”
If the doctor has a different opinion, then spend time listening and seeing the world the same way he does. One thing is certain: If the doctor doesn’t believe you are listening and acknowledging his or her opinion, it doesn’t matter what you say or how right you are or what the evidence-based medicine says — he or she will not be listening. MSLs need to bring their stories about evidence-based medicine to life; you should practice telling the stories to colleagues. MSLs should dramatize the stories and make them come to life with a smile and some enthusiasm.
We all have heard that first impressions last a lifetime. A friendly smile and good eye contact go a long way. Looking at people when you communicate with them acknowledges them and indicates you are interested in them, particularly if you look them straight in the eye. Eye contact also lets you know where they are looking. Nothing communicates trust more quickly than good eye contact.
Through sharing stories about patients and other doctors, MSLs put themselves in a partnering mode, not as a company representative with an agenda. By thoroughly listening, the physician slowly comes around and believes the new information is his or her idea. Do this, and you’ll have made a friend and communicated your message effectively.
MSLs might do well to remember that communication is more important than knowledge.

Article by Philip Carrigan

Nov
15

The Rising Demand for Medical Science Liaisons

shutterstock_127896038The Medical Affairs Director needed me to find the right kind of talent for a specialized field medical role; Medical Science Liaison (MSL). A key phrase he repeatedly used has since come up in the subsequent discussions I’ve had with Medical Affairs professionals looking for great talent for their teams; “scientific credibility”.
Of course, scientific credibility has always been an important aspect of the interactions between pharmaceutical company employees and Healthcare Providers (HCPs). However, the reason why we have heard this term so much recently, one industry expert commented, is because companies are now operating in an environment where the promotion code is being interpreted very strictly, not only in terms of financial disclosure (ref: the “Sunshine Laws”) but also quite specifically on how, and by whom, information can be shared.
The evolving needs of HCPs have been a main driver in creating this new environment. As one Medical Science Liaison Manager explained to me, HCPs nowadays are dealing with more and more niche therapies, and have access to a lot of product information (e.g. through improvements in information technology), so the information and guidance they require from manufacturers is becoming increasingly specialized. With this, they expect the company to provide “partners”, with whom they can interact on more of a peer-level, discussing diseases and drugs. As Medical Representatives (MRs) find their interactions with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) more limited, especially in terms of the information they are allowed to share, this is where the MSL brings value. An MSL, with a medical license or doctorate degree, can bring the required level of scientific credibility to partner effectively with an HCP.
It’s clear why companies need strong MSLs, but where to find the right people? The challenge that every hiring manager faces is that they need someone with the requisite scientific credibility, but who also has the “soft skills” of a commercially-minded professional. I remember hearing the concern from one hiring manager that the young lady I’d introduced may be too academic. As he explained, it’s no use having an MSL with excellent scientific credentials if they can’t communicate effectively with HCPs, drive the business forward, and understand the importance of customer service.
In terms of mid-career MSL recruitment, we’ve seen a lot of hiring from competitors this year. Hiring managers have also been exploring other avenues to find or mold people with the right balance of skills. Some companies have explored academia, bearing in mind that these professionals will need subsequent development, and may not transition smoothly into the business world. Other hiring managers have found talent within their existing employees; e.g., MRs or marketing professionals with an MSc or PhD.
However, these alone cannot represent a sustainable, long-term strategy. A number of senior figures with whom I have spoken, highlighted the need to promote the MSL as a career choice within the industry, academia, and even amongst undergraduate and post-graduate students. One Medical Doctor suggested that Japan lacks the specifically designed courses balancing scientific education with a strong vocational element, which you find in other countries. If courses like this were offered, then future generations of MDs and PhDs may view the MSL role as a natural career choice.
One senior executive stated that he could see the pharmaceutical industry moving towards a more physician-led, or at least physician-inclusive, future. This would bring closer collaboration between HPCs and companies, based on sound principles of scientific evidence, leading to greater patient benefit. The role of the MSL is an essential link in this model. To achieve this, the scientists and physicians of tomorrow need to be shown that a career in industry is open to them, and is one of the most valid ways to make a great contribution to society.
Article By Philip Carrigan
Oct
10

The time is now for Medical Affairs

bigstock-Medicine-Doctor-Hand-Working-W-44541469On September 30th, 2013, a panel of Japan’s Health and Welfare Ministry issued an interim report on the manipulation of clinical research data on Diovan, a blood pressure-lowering drug, for Novartis Pharma. Aftershocks of the recent Diovan scandal have reverberated around Japan’s pharmaceutical industry. Quite expectedly, medical affairs (MA) will require strict compliance in medical and sales and marketing activities.

The environment on evidence generation through investigator-initiated trials (IITs) is fast changing. In the past, companies supported large-scale and local IITs by providing them with financial and administrative support. A senior Medical Director that we spoke to warned, “that the local studies may be the most dangerous as they are not always conducted according to GCP and are more related to commercial objectives, aligned with the importance of the centers or the power of the principal investigator. This practice used to exist everywhere and has long stopped in Europe. It still exists with some companies but I believe that it will stop in the near future”.

Medical affairs will need to lead initiatives to allay concerns of the industry by ensuring the independence of study organizations from funders and improving the quality of clinical studies through compliance with ICH-GCP. IITs will require adherence to standards of good clinical practice (GCP) set by the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH). Furthermore, companies will increase focus on programs with high transparency.

Most companies have two types of scientific teams: one for development and another for medical affairs. Development defines the scientific direction and early-stage development, as well as includes clinical trial runs, whereas medical affairs provide scientific support for late-stage development and post market support. In small companies, the same team may be responsible for both types of activities.

Medical affairs and medical liaison function alongside marketing to provide technical support to both internal teams and external customers. Medical liaison teams include field-based medical information specialists who provide in-depth drug and disease information to health providers. Both medical affairs and medical liaison teams provide information services to educate department employees and thus ensure that consumer questions are addressed, as well as disseminate data to health care providers in the community. Medical affairs teams also formulate publications plans and report key trial results to the PMDA, in scientific meetings, and through journal articles.

Social pressure to ensure research independence and publication of relevant data that benefit patients has increased. The goals are to increase the number of publications and improve the standard of medical science in Japan. Ultimately, the strength and performance of medical affairs departments will have a direct correlation to the number and quality of highly ethical scientific publications.

The crisis initiated by the Diovan scandal may prove to be the catalyst to improve the quality of educational and promotional materials (medical affairs teams prepare scientific information for marketing purposes) and to deepen relationships with professional associations, patient support groups, and advocacy groups.

The race to attract top medical affairs and medical liaison talents has intensified. More important, the pressure has increased on medical affairs and medical liaison to ensure that pre-promotion, off-label promotion of products are and not carried out and along with any unscientific bias promotion or prescription inducible clinical trial and that outside speakers do not act as a company’s operative or champion.

MA is playing a more critical role than ever; a leading European MA Director explained that “Medical Affairs should really function as the emergency brake for the shuttle that runs between the commercial organization and the R&D organization. Some companies have the MA organization residing in either one of these larger functional areas in either a matrix organization or adjacent functional area. The “brake” function comes into play, when the commercial organization in ostensibly “innovative” proposal is running a high risk of inflicting grievous harm to the reputation of a company in the post marketing space or the R&D organization is pursuing non-value added activities that have little or no commercial POS (probability of success), then MA needs to step in and speak to the science and provide supportive data to bolster their position or assessment. They are critical to prevent nefarious activities in both the development space as well as the post marketing space and hence prevent either loss of value (EPS) and subsequently investors’ confidence or loss of trust (from a tarnished reputation) due to unethical behavior”.

One of Asia’s leading Clinical Directors prophesied, “the future is bright for MA to become the star in the data generation, data recognition, data interpretation and analytics, arena as they pursue and the only real metric that matters in this industry, “speed to market” of high quality, safe and effective medicines. The future beckons with opportunity and the company which can capitalize on this will reap fortunes even for niche market and unmet medical needs drugs, that usually only come with blockbuster drugs. The formula is simple DATA → Information → Knowledge → Wisdom. The real commercial differential for success is not in Pharma knowledge but in Pharma wisdom. MA can become the star in this role rather than the cameo appearance it currently makes in this arena”.

The successful MA teams will be able to find the proverbial needle (data) in the hay stack while being in compliance with GCP guidelines. No one can predict the future but one thing is clear, MA is becoming one of the most critical functions at pharmaceutical companies.

Article By Philip Carrigan