December 30, 2010 ·
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Prateek Peres-da-Silva, an intern at Thought Leader Select and student at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, recently sat down with Dr. Maher “Max” Noureddine, Thought Leader Select’s departing chief scientific officer, to discuss his achievements at the company, as well as his vision for the non-profit he is launching to improve the professional lives of health care providers. Peres-da-Silva is a junior at UNC, double-majoring in business and biochemistry.
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: Good morning, Max. I’d like to hear some of your thoughts on your time at Thought Leader Select. Can you share a little about yourself and your role with the company?
Max Noureddine: Yes, Prateek. In terms of my training, I am a molecular geneticist with experience in biomedical research. I did my doctoral training in the genetics of cell cycle regulation, and then focused on the molecular genetics of neurodegenerative disorders as well as cancer. I joined Thought Leader Select in the fall of 2007 as the chief scientific officer and director of product development. In collaboration with an outstanding team at the company, I became responsible for the development and execution of the company’s line of competitive services and solutions in the area of key opinion leader assessments and profiling in particular, and in pharmaceutical consulting in general. As CSO, I am responsible for validating the ... read more »
December 29, 2010 ·
Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH
In a December 20, 2010 article, the Wall Street Journal addressed the royalties paid to back surgeons by a medical device manufacturer. The article highlights a group of five senior spine surgeons that received over $7 million from Medtronics in royalties and consulting fees. The article also goes on to suggest that the number of procedures involving spinal fusions performed by these physicians may have exceeded those in the general population of Medicare patients. However, it was noted that these surgeons did not receive royalties from procedures performed in their hospital using devices from the manufacturer in question, since this would have been an ethical violation and a conflict of interest. So where’s the problem here?
The issue at hand may be defining fair and reasonable compensation. It could also be the level of influence these surgeons may have on other spine surgeons to use devices in which they have a royalty payment from the manufacturer. And lastly, it could be argued that these consulting and royalty payments could amount to surrogate “kickback” payments to use and influence the use of certain devices. All of these issues are fraught with ethical dilemmas and moral challenges.
If I am the inventor in new technology to enhance televisions, and I sell this technology to a ... read more »
December 23, 2010 ·
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Press Release Out Today from the Offices of Thought Leader Select
December 23, 2010 (CHAPEL HILL, NC)—Dr. Maher “Max” Noureddine, a noted Parkinson’s disease researcher and chief scientific officer at North Carolina-based research firm Thought Leader Select, is leaving the company to launch the Institute for Advanced Career Development (IACD) on January 3, 2011.
The institute will offer an array of programs for medical professionals seeking to advance their academic careers in their respective medical fields. Programs on offer will include a physician-centric curriculum called MedMentors, courses for nurses called RNMentors, and courses for pharmacists and veterinarians called PharMentors and VetMentors, respectively.
In addition to the programs centered on leadership in allied health professions, Dr. Noureddine will lead development courses for legal professionals interested in understanding the science of DNA-based evidence. Dr. Noureddine is trained in human molecular genetics with years of laboratory research experience at top institutions such as UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke Medical Center, and The National Institutes of Health.
“I am excited to take all of my scientific training and combine it with my experience in working directly with leading academic medical specialists from across the globe,” stated Noureddine. “While I am sad to be leaving Thought Leader Select, I am doing so with the company’s complete endorsement—they really believe in what I’m doing to advance scientific careers for better healthcare delivery. ... read more »
December 16, 2010 ·
In the Field with Neil: Observations from Neil Mellor, Business Development Consultant
“When the US sneezes,” as they say, “Canada catches a cold.” This cliché could not be more apt for the Canada pharmaceutical executive when it comes to managing relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs). Canada is still a long way off from having similar regulatory activity to the US, with regard to governing interaction with healthcare professionals, but Canadians should pay attention to what is happening south of the border.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is a well-known entity to any US pharmaceutical sales representative, product manager, sales or marketing executive. The OIG is a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services and has strict powers governing how the US pharmaceutical industry engages with KOLs and promotes pharmaceutical products. According to The OIG’s website (http://oig.hhs.gov/), “The OIG’s duties are carried out through a nationwide network of audits, investigations, inspections and other mission-related functions performed by OIG components.” The OIG has sweeping powers to investigate, prosecute and fine, if necessary, or even invoke jail terms. Since 2000, over $11.7 billion in legal settlements have been collected by the OIG from pharma companies promoting off-label usage of their products or violating the agency’s expectations of how the industry should interact with KOLs.
Canada ... read more »
December 10, 2010 ·
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Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M.Sc, MPH
For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has had a good working relationship with the medical profession. Of course, pharmaceutical companies have always been dependent on physicians writing prescriptions for their products, and for pharmacists filling these prescriptions, so ultimately the patients could return to health. This has been a true symbiotic relationship where pharmaceutical companies needed doctors to prescribe their drugs, and physicians had effective medicines to offer their patients.
Occasionally, there were a few bad apples on both sides of the equation that overstepped the boundaries of this relationship, but for the most part, it worked well. So what happened? Why the Sunshine Act? And why the apparent “witch-hunt” to expose every Thought Leader that engages with someone from a pharmaceutical company? Is it time for a course correction? Don’t we have bigger problems to deal with in the financial and economic arenas than to worry about how much money a Thought Leader made from conducting clinical studies or speaking at a conference on behalf of a pharmaceutical company?
Where did it all go wrong? How do we fix it? And what does the future hold for this pharma-medical relationship? Healthcare costs have been steadily rising in most countries across the globe. And while there have been increases in these costs, almost no other country has ... read more »
December 6, 2010 ·
According to CURE Epilepsy, epilepsy affects 50,000,000 people worldwide (http://www.cureepilepsy.org/about/epilepsy_facts.asp). This disorder can be debilitating, and finding the ideal treatment can improve patients’ quality of life significantly. In addition to patient advocacy groups, health care professionals (HCPs) are often involved in advocating for the rights of individuals with epilepsy, including educating patient groups about the disorder and possible treatment options, lobbying governmental bodies for affordable healthcare and research dollars, and actively fundraising for money to find a cure. Some HCPs lead their peers in advancing medical science to understand epilepsy better and to find new therapies that will improve quality of life. These thought leaders are often highly involved in advocacy efforts.
Thought Leader Select is a firm that specializes in delivering objective, validated data on the skills and experiences of key thought leaders, so that biopharmaceutical companies can seek their appropriate advice and guidance in the development of new medicines. Over the past several years, Thought Leader Select has studied key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the treatment of epilepsy and their involvement in many areas, including clinical research, treatment guidelines involvement, publishing, reimbursement involvement and participation in advocacy efforts. In a recent assessment of over 200 global epilepsy KOLs, Thought Leader Select analyzed their participation in patient advocacy ... read more »
December 3, 2010 ·
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Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M.Sc., MPH
There has been a lot of talk lately of a new form of healthcare delivery known as “accountable care organizations” (ACOs). And while it may seem as yet another type of managed care organization, these ACOs are attempting to introduce the element of quality balanced with fiscal responsibility and cost containment. Undoubtedly, this is a noble attempt at bringing quality healthcare at an affordable level to patients within the United States. Actually, who could argue with affordable, quality healthcare based on sound outcomes research and cost-benefit analysis? So where is the scare?
Could the concept of an ACO be a variation on the theme of capitation that we saw in the 80s? The basic principle is for healthcare providers to deliver the optimal healthcare within a specified budget. So what’s the difference? Well, the old capitation model was based on responsible economic principles; deliver the best healthcare you can with the money you’ve got. The problem was that in order to meet the capitation hurdles, many providers simply under-delivered services, so a short-term gain often resulted in a long-term loss. Also, quality initiatives and health outcomes research was still in its infancy, so finding the optimal healthcare solution was often a hit-or-miss situation. But today, there are better quality measures based on outcomes research ... read more »