Medical Science Liaison: Perfect Job for the Outgoing

Medical Science Liaison: Perfect
Job for the Outgoing Scientist
Peter Chen PhD
Assistant Medical Director
GE Healthcare, Medical Diagnostics
[email protected]
My Path
• Aug 2003 – Aug 2009: IDP Student- Physiology and
Pharmacology, Chris Baylis
• Sept 2009 – Oct 2011: Post doc at University of Illinois at
Chicago, Pharmacology
• Oct 2011 – Aug 2012: MSL Contracted by inVentiv
• Aug 2012 – Present: Assistant Medical Director for GE
Healthcare Medical Diagnostics
Leaving Academia
Passion and Drive
Career Progression
Job Security
Human Interaction
What is a MSL?
What is a Medical Science Liaison?
“…specific role within the pharmaceutical,
biotechnology, medical device, CRO and other
health-care industries. MSLs have advanced
scientific training and academic credentials
generally consisting of a doctorate degree
(Ph.D., PharmD., M.D.) in the life sciences.”
MSL History
• Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) were first established by Upjohn
Pharmaceuticals in 1967
• Need for scientifically trained field staff that would be able to build
rapport with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in various therapeutic
areas of research
• Originally, the first MSLs were selected from experienced sales
representatives that had strong scientific backgrounds to bring a
higher degree of clinical and educational expertise to the medical
professionals they were working with
• Over the years, MSL teams have been made up of individuals with
various scientific backgrounds including: sales reps, those with
nursing backgrounds, those with various doctoral degrees or other
clinical backgrounds.
Am I A Salesperson?
Versus Sales
“Medical science liaisons (MSLs), who are considered medical rather than
sales staff, have greater freedom than salespeople as they visit doctors
offices to discuss the science behind a medicine, including unapproved uses.
The FDA permits drug companies to respond to unsolicited requests for
information from doctors, including off-label data, if they provide truthful,
nonpromotional material, says Rita Chappelle, an agency spokeswoman. And
while the FDA requires traditional sales reps to refer information requests to
their employers' medical or scientific staff, MSLs are usually on those staffs.”
"I see them as primarily being in a position to give us information and
educational support," says Robert Sundel, a physician at Children's Hospital
Boston and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "While they're
generally objective, as with everyone, I try to keep track of the ways in which
their own interests might affect the information they provide."
Wang, Wallstreet Journal 2009
Drug Firms' Medical Staffs Say What
Salespeople Can't
“At the same time, drug makers have been
cutting their conventional sales forces. By the
end of 2008, the number of U.S. sales reps had
dropped to 90,000 from a peak of about
106,000 in 2006, according to ZS Associates, a
consulting firm.
Last month Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it
plans to cut 35% of its sales force, or 200 sales
reps, but none of its MSLs.”
Wang, Wallstreet Journal 2009
Salaries and Industry Growth
Industry Growth
Top 10 pharmaceutical manufacturers increased
their MSL teams from an average 107 FTEs in
2005 to 163 FTEs by 2009, a 52% increase. Top
25 companies grew from 51 FTEs in 2005 to 119
FTEs, a 133% increase. But much of the growth
in Top 25 companies’ MSL team size occurred
between 2005 and 2007. Since 2007 average
MSL team sizes among Top 25 Companies rose
by only 4 FTEs.
Can I Be A MSL?
Necessary Skills
• Strong scientific and pharmaceutical knowledge and
• Strong team, leadership, planning and written/verbal
communication skills
• Strong presentation and teaching skills
• Ability to learn and effectively convey clinical and non-clinical
technical information
• Strong interpersonal skills
– It’s not enough to think that you are outgoing or a “people-person”. Building
and maintaining relationships is a lot of work.
• Strong organizational skills
Necessary Skills
• Ability to work independently
– MUST be self-motivated with the ability to work independently. These
positions are field based (out of a home office environment)
• Ability to lead and influence key decision makers
• Ability to develop and maintain strong relationships
• Ability to travel between 25-75% (depending on territory)
– MSLs frequently spend 70% of their time traveling, and it isn’t something you
can take lightly.
“We are a face organization…”
My 2012 Travel
• 235 Face to Face Meetings
• 11 Conferences/Dinners
• 6 Hospital Presentations
• 121 flights
• 23 nights in hotels
• 50+ car rentals
• Develop and maintain professional relationships with key opinion leaders
• Present data on client products including unsolicited and off-label
• Facilitate identification and presentation of research opportunities
• Assist in implementation of protocol development and administration for
proposals to be supported
• Uncover unique opportunities to develop/implement drug utilization and
pharmacoeconomic analysis. Provide medical input on product strategy,
future indications
• Provide information to local experts to assist in keeping their
presentations current
• Conduct on-going training to field sales personnel and others, edit
promotional material
• Represent the company at medical meetings
Developing KOL Relationships
Sample Meeting
My Keys to Success…
Be yourself and believe what you say
Leave your ego at home
Be flexible
Be perceptive and keep on your toes
It’s not personal
Clinical Research Publications
Speaker Bureau
Educational Programs
Advocate and Outspoken Supporter
Finding a MSL Job
Finding a MSL Job
• Start educating yourself on the MSL role by reading articles on
the role, interview techniques, what to expect on the job etc.
• Who do you know?
• Recruiters- Recruiters are an invaluable resource to learn
about and to help you possibly transition into the role. Begin
to reach out to them directly.
• Contacting Medical Directors
• Talk to sales representatives
• Apply online- focus on roles that are within your Therapeutic
Area or Disease specialty ONLY!
• Get a sales job?
• Contract jobs
Finding a MSL Job
• Continue to contribute to LinkedIn discussions
on groups. This will help with networking.
• Review multiple job descriptions to familiarize
yourself. Use this same verbiage on your
CV/Cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
• Join MSL Societies
Sample Job Posting
Medical Science Liaison, Oncology (Central)
*St. Louis or Chicago*
• Develop and track thought leader (TL) engagement plans – identify, develop, and
maintain long-term collaborative relationship with TLs within assigned territory.
Participate in medical & scientific exchanges with the medical/scientific community.
• Respond to and document unsolicited requests for information on company products
and pipeline. Provide clinical/scientific information, as requested, to local payers and
formulary decision makers to ensure patient access and support reimbursement.
• Support advisory board meetings and investigator meetings. Provide support for
content development and delivering clinical presentations.
• Represent the company at medical meetings through Medical Affairs’ Scientific Booth
coverage and other related activities. Provide medical/scientific presentations to
internal and external groups.
• Provide clinical/scientific input and training to internal functions within regulatory
• Identify and nominate members of the Promotional Speakers’ Bureau and ensure
they are updated on new clinical data and findings
• Facilitate company sponsored and investigator sponsored trials (ISTs).
Provide frequent updates on investigative site support by updating
medical/clinical teams with feedback and insights from interactions and
discussions with TLs and investigators. Facilitate investigator interactions
with Medical Directors.
• Adhere to corporate SOPs and ensure vigilant compliance with relevant
legal and regulatory guidelines governing scientific interactions with
physicians and healthcare professionals across all activities, including
those related to clinical trials, scientific interactions with internal and
external groups, and responses to unsolicited requests for
medical/scientific information.
• Maintain clinical, scientific, and technical expertise in relevant product and
disease state areas.
• Lead and/or participate on department committees as delegated by
Medical Science Liaison leadership.
• Mentor fellow MSLs as assigned by Medical Science Liaison leadership.
• An advanced clinical degree required (e.g. PharmD,
PhD, or MD – other doctoral degrees may be
• A minimum of 5 years of Clinical/research experience
in the area of hematology and/or oncology strongly
• Previous pharmaceutical/MSL experience preferred.
• Flexibility, diplomacy, and ability to manage
• Problem solving and entrepreneurial skills.
• Ability to travel frequently
Final Thoughts…
Things to consider…
• Stay in your therapeutic field…but be broad
• It may take over an year to find a job…1% of
new applicants gets hired
• Don’t give up…rethink job search strategy
• First job may not be your dream job…get your
foot in the door
• Don’t let a piece of paper do the talking for
In the meantime…Postdoc????
Passion and Drive
Career Progression
Job Security
Human Interaction
• MSL World
• Free career guide articles
• LinkedIN
• Job search
• Network
• Medical Science Liaison Society
• Dr. Samuel Dyer, Chairman of the Board
• Networking
• Career guidance
Thank You!

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