The ever rising impact of Medical Affairs function
This article is an extract of a report examining the trends that have led to the increased significance of Medical Affairs; and offering some best practices for addressing the growing demands on the Medical Affairs function.
Pierre Morgon Chief Marketing Officer, Cegedim Email:Pierre.Morgon@cegedim.com Twitter: P_A_MORGON
The Medical Affairs function within Life Sciences companies has significantly broadened and increased in importance in recent years. This is the result of forces both inside and outside of the industry, which have driven change in nearly every aspect of business. These forces include rising healthcare costs and changing payment structures; world population dynamics; environmental factors; and transformations along the entire value chain of the Life Sciences industry.
Among the faces that the industry presents to its stakeholders, commercial organizations in the Life Science companies are changing; shifting from large sales forces to smaller, more specialized teams designed to respond to the needs of each specific therapeutic area—each requiring the management of more complex, voluminous scientific and medical information. Simultaneously, commercialization budgets are squeezed by the overall effort to maintain profitability. Yet, the need for dedicated resources is expanding, driving the search for alternative and more cost-effective media channels, without compromising on information quality and compliance requirements. As these interface changes take place, some functions are gaining in importance, especially those with some form of control. Among those, the Medical Affairs role is playing a pivotal role, as it is tasked with ensuring the integrity, comprehensiveness and reliability of the medical and scientific information. As such, Medical Affairs accounts for a sizeable share of the company image and intangible value.
The industry, along with all its stakeholders, is rightly concerned by the additional risk of product misuse or inadequate patient adherence fostered by incomplete or inadequate information content or dysfunctional information flows. In addition to the possibly dire consequences for the individual patient, the impact on the company reputation can be far reaching. In extreme cases, the financial consequences can reach catastrophic proportions. An example being the case of market authorization cancellation with the inevitable domino effect on company profitability and stock valuation, as well as affecting the level of trust in the company from both authorities and consumers. A case sponsored by the scientific community and supported by scientific evidence presented in a suitable way to meet the different stakeholders’ needs and to address both medical and socio-economic parameters will demonstrate the value of the product and thus provide the foundation towards its approval, pricing negotiation and use implementation. Agile, efficient information management flow ensuring content quality—up to date, accurate, complete and adapted to the audience’s need—becomes a complex task.
As organizations increasingly demand that their medical departments take a leading position throughout the drug life cycle, the development of transversal cooperation takes on a greater importance. Medical teams can offer precious insights and calls to action to support other functions in presenting the product scientific core value adapted to the regulatory, market access and launch key stakeholders. The key to success is:
- Anticipation to ensure compliant delivery
- Readiness of teams’ expertise
- Adaptation of content
- Readiness of the communication process