Understanding the value that key opinion leaders provide pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies is clear, but how do companies benefit thought leaders and clinical investigators? By definition, KOLs are physicians, scientists and academics who devote time to studying and advancing their craft. Often, these academic pursuits are broadened by involvement in early-stage advisory board meetings and clinical investigations.
In the early stage of molecule development, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies rely on KOLs to help shape how a new compound will be used in patients, to design clinical studies, and to determine pricing. Simultaneously, thought leaders gain early knowledge about new ways of treating patients with specific diseases and illnesses. They also learn about new treatment breakthroughs and therapies that provide greater value for patients.
Clinical investigators who participate in early-Phase II investigations are helping companies determine correct dosing, timing and other safety issues. At the same time, they too have a first look at new therapies as well as the opportunity to shape future treatment guidelines. Additionally, these investigators often present new clinical data to other scientists and physicians, which reveal possibilities for future research and investigation.
Opportunities for early knowledge of and input to treatments and innovative science ultimately benefit patients as small and large therapeutic breakthroughs improve quality of life for the sick. Furthermore, early-stage KOLs and clinical investigators also assist in the transfer of learning down to community physicians who are able to help patients with confidence.
In the last installment of this series, Kristen Smithwick will wrap up with a discussion of how to create mutually-beneficial collaborations by first understanding the skills and experiences of thought leaders objectively and methodically and then engaging them in ways that are meaningful for the KOL, the pharmaceutical company and the patient.