The Evolving Role of Medical Affairs in Product Development

It is no secret that the pharmaceutical landscape is changing. Among those changes is the evolving role of Medical Affairs.

Shifting to strategic, multi-stakeholder engagements

More and more manufacturers are placing emphasis on the engagements between customers and Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) and relying less on Commercial to deliver value. A recent Eye For Pharma release points to several market and regulatory changes spurring this transformation.

  • Rise of the portfolio strategy and specialty products: Gone are the days of block-buster brands that focus on chronic, highly prevalent diseases. Greener opportunities lie in treatments for smaller, more complex diseases that target niche populations with high science
  • Leaner Commercial teams: These specialized treatments for specific populations mean opportunities for Commercial are being trimmed. The data and information that needs to be communicated pave the way for the science-focused conversations that MSLs are well poised to have
  • Transition to value-based care: The rising cost of healthcare has demanded a change in the way that care is delivered and reimbursed. Treatments now need to show value across multiple domains to all stakeholders, including providers, advocacy, and payers. Substantiating that value, again, means delivering data that translates to patients, payors, and providers—a task perfectly suited for MSLs

Understanding the delivery of value

These highly strategic, highly scientific interactions between MSLs and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) not only allow for the brand’s science to be communicated, but they are a vehicle for Medical Affairs to deliver immense value to KOLs. But how do you know if knowledge and value are being transferred?

Trust clearly plays a role. KOLs need to trust that MSLs are delivering unbiased, scientifically rigorous information or they won’t be receptive or view the information as knowledge. MSLs must also demonstrate a true understanding of the KOL’s needs or the KOL won’t make the time to listen. It takes a different, more holistic level of insight to know whether Medical Affairs is servicing KOLs in a trustworthy way while effectively transferring scientific knowledge.

Maximizing the value of Medical Affairs

The insights that can be gathered by the right research partner allow Medical Affairs’ teams to gain a critical view into the needs and wants of KOLs, and into what they find significant or lacking in credibility. This intel is critical to helping Medical Affairs respond to the growing and changing demands on their MSLs. It can improve strategy, inform training, and hone scientific communications—ultimately delivering the science that turns beliefs into behavior, and building relationships that drive adoption.

Clinical SCORE has a unique methodology for learning directly from KOLs about their scientific understanding and clinical decision-making, and the perception of MSLs compared to competitors. To learn more about how Clinical SCORE can maximize the value of your Medical Affairs team, reach out to Blaine Cloud at