The Medical Science Liaison Society’s Dr. Samuel Dyer—The Thought Leader Select Interview, Part One

Thought Leader Select is a company focused on driving industry collaborations among biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics companies with leading medical experts and centers of excellence, with the ultimate goals of these collaborations being two-fold in purpose:  better treatment options for patients and better outcomes for global public health.  As part of our company’s mission, we work with multiple organizations to promote best practices that deliver ethical, transparent interactions among these various healthcare constituencies.

One of these groups is the recently-launched Medical Science Liaison Society, a global Non-Profit organization being led by the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Samuel Dyer.  The MSL Society is filling a vital need for the expanding role of Medical Science Liaisons around the world, as they collaborate with KOLs, physicians, and other health care professionals to advance medical science together to improve the quality of life for patients everywhere.

Thought Leader Select’s Allison Murphy, a veteran MSL herself from her days working in the Endocrinology Medical Affairs unit at Eli Lilly and Company, recently sat down with Dr. Dyer to learn more about this emerging organization and the impact the MSL Society is

having in promoting the role of Medical Science Liaisons in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics industries.

Allison Murphy:  “Good morning, Dr. Dyer. Thanks for joining us.  Tell us why you started the MSL Society.”

Samuel Dyer:  “Thank you, Allison. I’ve been working as an MSL or Managing teams of MSLs during my entire 12-year pharmaceutical career and during this time I have been very active in the global MSL community.  I have managed large teams of MSL teams in multiple countries.  Over the last 12 years, having worked as an MSL, MSL Director, and consultant to pharmaceutical, medical device and management consulting companies on MSL projects all over the world, I have built many close relationships with global colleagues within the international MSL community.

About two-and-a-half years ago, a group of us were at an international meeting and we started discussing the growth of the global MSL role and the need for a global professional MSL Society to both promote and help advance the MSL profession. We all agreed that the evolution of the MSL role, since it started in the U.S. at Upjohn in 1967, demanded the need for an organization to finally be dedicated to the role.  Although the MSL role is evolving, the MSL community is still small when compared to other professions within the pharmaceutical industry. However, there has been an explosion in growth of the role over the last several years and it is evolving in several countries/regions.

As the role has evolved, particularly over the last decade, and more companies continually embrace the importance of the role, we realized that it was necessary to do something to promote the role and bring resources to MSL professionals all over the world.  Although a few professional organizations within other areas of focus had tried, none of them had brought together a meaningful platform where MSL’s could network and grow within the profession.

So we decided to build an organization that would be dedicated exclusively to the MSL role—and to bring MSL professionals together to share best practices, resources, and provide a platform to network at live events.

Allison Murphy:  “What kind of efforts has it taken to bring the MSL Society to fruition over these last couple of years?”

Samuel Dyer:  “Since we were all dedicated MSL and Medical Affairs professionals ourselves, we thought it prudent to first bring in an expert from an Association Management Company, to ensure that we built our organization properly within a Non-Profit framework.  Although we are a Non-Profit, as with any business, we need to make enough money to keep the lights on, but we wanted to remain true to the mission we established during that international meeting —being a resource for education and networking opportunities for MSL professionals but always reinvesting our funds continuously in expanding that mission.

Our partner at L&M Association Management helped us build our board of directors, as well as with a host of other professional advisory services geared to help us meet the demands of our mission and status as a non-profit. We also enlisted the help of a well-respected Non-Profit Attorney who also sits on our board of directors.

Next, we built a great partnership with EyeforPharma, one of the most respected companies in the area of events and content delivery for the various industries within the healthcare space.  That partnership has been great, since we can focus on the MSL content and connecting people within the MSL community while relying on their event management expertise.  EyeforPharma will be hosts all of our live global events including webinars and conferences.  It’s a true win-win for both organizations.

With these key partnerships in place, we worked to build our website, launched this summer, as a hub to bring people to the MSL Society and serve as a platform for MSL resources.  We’re already seeing massive interest around the world for this type of resource, as the website has brought us members from the United States, Europe, Australia, and South America, with more arriving on our virtual doorstep each week. Through an agreement with First Word, we’ve made available also a free summary report on MSL/KOL Compliance that I co-authored with them.  This report alone has already seen more than 600 downloads in just a couple of months—that tells you the level of interest within the medical affairs community for an organization like the MSL Society.”

Allison Murphy:  “It sounds like you’ve built a strong team of people at the MSL Society.”

Samuel Dyer:  “Actually, it’s two teams—a board of directors and a board of advisors—who are generous with both their time and expertise. We’ve kept our staffing small, to enable us to keep reinvesting resources into the organization’s offerings.

From the very beginning, we’ve shaped our board of directors with diverse experience, with people from both inside and outside healthcare and pharma.  We did this to get different perspectives at the very highest level of the organizations, from people with experience in association management, non-profit law, as well as those who have very deep experience within our industry. These people help us run an effective organization, both in terms of our core mission and in fulfilling the legal, compliance, and operational aspects of the company.

Our global advisory committee is strictly MSL focused. We have a very specific need there for people with direct MSL experience, and we’re privileged to have people from pharma and device companies. They consist of senior MSLs, new MSLs, Executives and people who consult with Medical Affairs divisions at leading pharmaceutical companies around the world. We also have great geographic diversity, with advisory committee members from North America, Europe, and Australia. It’s truly a group with global expertise on how the MSL role is advancing pharmaceutical companies in many different countries and companies.

The group tackles a lot of different areas for us as needed, as opposed to working on one specific project, such as governance of the organization, and we’re very thankful for their critical contributions thus far and their leadership and vision for the future.  We expect that the Global Advisory Committee will actually grow as the society grows. ”

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