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 »
November 4, 2010 ·
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Neil Mellor, business development consultant at Thought Leader Select, and Paul Meade, the company’s president and founder, attended SMi’s KOL: Knowledge Leader Partnerships conference on September 29 and 30 in London. Neil sat down with the Thought Leader Select Blog to discuss his takeaways from the conference.
TLS Blog: Neil, how was the conference in London?
Neil Mellor: I found it quite interesting, and so did Paul—since we’ve grown the company over the last five years to include multiple European and global thought leader assessments, we thought it made sense to get a real sense of the industry’s thinking about what we do on the European continent.
TLS Blog: What were some of the main points of discussion?
Neil Mellor: Right now, there’s a pretty hot debate going on about the roles that health care professionals play in the development and launch of new medicines. This conference even included a robust discussion on what to call them—it seems the European marketplace is evolving away from the term “key opinion leader,” with companies choosing instead to rely on what they call “external experts,” “opinion leaders,” or “thought leaders.” It made us feel even better about the name of our company, that’s for sure!
TLS Blog: Would you say that there’s a migration going on in the perception of the HCPs ... read more »
March 30, 2010 ·
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 30, 2010 (CHAPEL HILL, NC)—Thought Leader Select, a North Carolina firm dedicated to better engagement and more sophisticated deployment of key opinion leaders for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, announces the hiring of Brian Castle as director of global marketing and client relations.
Mr. Castle, a native of Jackson, MS, spent 11 years leading business development teams in the financial services industry for a variety of Fortune 500 banking institutions. More recently, through his independent consulting company, Parklife Communications, Mr. Castle has collaborated with companies and individuals in consumer product design and development, engineering, business services, manufacturing, and fine arts on multiple marketing, communications, public relations and social media projects.
“Brian brings a unique set of skills to Thought Leader Select,” stated Kristen Smithwick, vice president of global sales, marketing, and planning at the firm. “His work is taking us to the forefront of our marketplace, in terms of his abilities to connect us even more with our clients, prospects, and industry leaders.”
Castle earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1998. He will be serving Thought Leader Select in several capacities, executing marketing strategies, managing client relationships, and assisting senior management with issues related to strategic planning.
About Thought Leader Select
Thought Leader Select is a specialty firm focused on providing solutions—research, ... read more »
March 18, 2010 ·
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Key Opinion Leaders Help to Foster Robust, Viable Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Pipelines
Imagine a world where pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies developed therapies without input from KOLs at various stages of product discovery and development. The results would be far fewer treatments available, greater risks for unwanted side effects and potentially, a larger number of unnecessary therapies. The average pharmaceutical company will initiate over 100 research projects to develop one successful compound. With the stakes high to create therapies that make a difference, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies turn to KOLs for assistance in the following areas:
· Determining the medical needs for a disease early in the development of a compound
· Consulting on early clinical data as to the viability of a compound
· Providing guidance on how to present clinical data to practicing physicians in the community.
Next week’s fourth installment of the series by Kristen Smithwick will share how pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies contribute to the continued education and advancement of KOLs, clinical investigators and practicing physicians.
March 11, 2010 ·
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While 2010 continues to be a challenging year for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, certain targeted areas of development continue to gain attention from the industry.
In PharmExec’s 2010 forecast,Alexandra Kibble predicted continued focus on the following therapeutic areas: cardiovascular, oncology, and anti-infectives. Kibble also predicted a rise in pipeline development of treatments for central nervous system disorders and diabetes.
At Thought Leader Select, we are addressing impending client needs to work with key opinion leaders in endocrinology, cardiology, and neurology to meet the increasing demands for new drug therapies in these key areas. Our work matches physician key opinion leaders, as well as non-traditional KOLs, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses, with pharma companies for critical development work on investigator teams, advisory boards, and other areas of deployment.
Read the entire PharmExec forecast here.
March 4, 2010 ·
With heightened scrutiny on the objectivity of Continuing Medical Education meetings in recent years, pharmaceutical companies have placed more emphasis on understanding skills and experiences of physician Thought Leaders who may serve as CME faculty. In addition to publishing grant databases which outline monies paid to speakers, CME faculty and other advisors, leading companies are paying more attention to the methods they use to select potential speakers and faculty – basing invitations on physicians’ demonstrated experiences within a therapeutic area or disease state, and not just the physician’s comfort or familiarity with a company’s products.
Thought Leader Select, a North Carolina firm delivering critical key opinion leader engagement solutions to the pharma and biotech industries, has advised industry leaders on high-impact KOL deployment plans for more than 4800 thought leaders around the world. “Objective KOL profiles power our recommendations for CME and other aspects of thought leader engagement, ensuring that companies maintain compliance with CME activities and prove their relevance and necessity for medical professionals,” according to Lisa Smith, Executive Vice President of Research at Thought Leader Select.
Top objective qualities used to select CME faculty members include:
- Demonstrable experience treating patients in the disease state – Preferably, a physician would serve a diverse patient population exhibiting a variety of complications within a specific disease state.
- Comfort with and a proven track ... read more »
March 2, 2010 ·
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KOLs Provide the “Voice of the Patient” for Life-changing Discoveries
According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA—(http://www.phrma.org/), “Only one of every 10,000 potential medicines investigated by America’s research-based pharmaceutical companies makes it through the research and development pipeline and is approved for patient use by the United States Food and Drug Administration.”
Development of innovative medicines for effective disease treatment requires that pharmaceutical companies have a keen understanding of the diseases impacting patients and a view into how doctors see these medicines work in their patient populations. Without advice from physicians and scientists in the field, pharma companies may target the “wrong” illnesses or miss or miss opportunities to tackle the most complex diseases.
Physicians become the “voice of the patient” during the drug discovery and development process. Patients around the globe have the partnership of physicians, scientists and pharmaceutical manufactures to thank for longer life expectancy and the eradication of deadly diseases.
The most beneficial physician/scientist/pharma collaborations exemplify the following key hallmarks:
· Common goals for identifying patient needs, gaps in available treatments and potential new therapies
· Open exchange of patient needs and treatment ideas
· Critical, unbiased ... read more »
February 23, 2010 ·
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Now more than ever, pharmaceutical companies’ relationships with physician thought leaders, also known as key opinion leaders (KOLs), are under intense scrutiny. Industry ethicists and watchdogs alike have speculated on the objectivity of medical education presentations and other aspects of KOL involvement during the marketing of new drug therapies.
However, the truth is that physician thought leaders need pharmaceutical companies as much as pharmas need KOLs, and it’s possible for both doctors and drug companies to create symbiotic relationships that have patients’ best interests at heart. When pharmaceutical companies seek to understand the skills and experiences of thought leaders objectively and methodically, they are able to subsequently engage them in ways that are meaningful for the KOL, the pharmaceutical company and the patient.
In this Thought Leader Select blog series by Kristen Smithwick, we’ll examine key, mutually-beneficial collaborations between thought leaders and pharmaceutical concerns, and we’ll see how those interactions spearhead scientific innovation and better patient care.
About the author: Kristen Smithwick is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Thought Leader Select. Throughout her twelve-year career, Kristen has led teams specializing in key opinion leader research, strategic marketing, and brand-building. Kristen has consulted with many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to implement KOL engagement strategies at every stage of the ... read more »
February 16, 2010 ·
Welcome to the Thought Leader Select Blog. As we seek new ways to connect with our client companies and provide a more valuable experience with Thought Leader Select, our blog will serve as a venue for providing information about our products, services and the industries we serve, pharma and biotech.