Friday, June 10, 2011

Keeping KOLs Fat and Sassy: These Consultants Can Help

I am not usually pestered with e-mails from consultants who serve the pharmaceutical industry, and so it was an interesting experience to get one e-mail directly and have another forwarded to me by a colleague, within 24 hours. As I described last month--
--the care and feeding of KOLs ("key opinion leaders" for those who just joined us, aka paid physician shills for industry) seems to be a hot topic just now.

I received this message:

  • Howard,

    I hope things are well at University of Texas Medical Branch. As you may already know, the Sunshine Act is the most pressing set of regulations that will impact how companies approach KOL compensation. University of Texas Medical Branch will need to start implementing aggregate spend tracking processes now, because in January 2012, your company will be required to disclose all payments for key opinion leaders' services. Companies like University of Texas Medical Branch need to have a progressive and compliant infrastructure in place to establish fair-market value compensation and meet regulatory challenges. Regulatory agencies that have focused heavily on top drug makers have begun to turn their attention toward mid-size and smaller companies' KOL compensation practices. Cutting Edge Information’s latest study, "KOL Fair-Market Value and Aggregate Spend: Documentation, Tracking and the Sunshine Act," is designed to help companies of all sizes compete in today's highly regulated environment.


    For more detailed information about this study, including the report table of contents, sample pages and more - please visit
    our website.


    Our report contains 1000+ data points and metrics that will help your team:
    Benchmark FMV payments to set fee schedules and compensation ranges.
    Understand the impact of new and existing regulations on fair-market value payments.
    Track highly detailed FMV compensation ranges with the industry-leading level of granularity you need to remain compliant.
    Learn how other large companies have changed their KOL compensation strategies to stay competitive following the Sunshine Act's passage.
    Stay compliant with new federal regulations and avoid hefty regulatory fines.
    Overcome the hurdles erected by third-parties to hinder companies' efforts at building KOL relationships.
    Build a best-in-class system to aggregate KOL spending data, as well as track and document KOL activities.
    Has University of Texas Medical Branch done all it can to prepare for the big changes required by the Sunshine Act? We can help - find out more here:

    If you would like to talk more about how we can customize our benchmarks and analysis to your specific needs, I am more than happy to discuss the array of services we can provide you. I hope to hear from you soon - enjoy your week!

    Kind Regards,

    Jon Hess
    Account Manager at Cutting Edge Information
    Phone: 919-433-0211

    Our Medical Affairs Newsletter will keep you on the cutting edge of industry developments this year.
    Subscribe today!

These folks appear to think that the academic medical center I work for is a mid-sized company that sells drugs. We do, I suppose, employ "key opinion leaders" but we call them faculty, and expect them to teach students and do research and take care of patients, not sell products for us. (There is the whole debate about whether academic centers are becoming too commercialized, but that's a different post.) They also seem to suggest that the threat of shining the light of publicity on KOL-related activities will have us running scared and hence in need of consultant assistance.

Meanwhile a colleague of mine received this e-mail solicitation:

Dear XXX,
I wanted to get in contact, as we're organizing speakers for a very focused and unique conference looking at the important issue of:

Integrating innovative communication approaches and new best practices to reinvigorate the pharma high-value commercial model
Miami, USA 14th-15th November 2011

This will be the only focused event looking at the latest "best practice" approaches to selling and marketing high-value specialty drugs to distinct consumer groups, and working in partnership with therapeutic specialists & pharmacists as well as with hospitals & healthcare providers to provide real value and to improve patient access.
One of the goals, will be to improve seamless coordination between all internal & external stakeholders in strategic, operational and tactical roles. Such roles would typically include marketing, commercial operations, sales, sales force effectiveness, talent development, training, market access, pricing and reimbursement, product and brand management, as well as medical affairs & liaisons. As specialty & orphan marketplaces are growing rapidly, with a lot of new, high cost therapies entering a saturated market, where payers are more risk averse and budget-conscious, most would agree this topic deserves specific and detailed attention and discussion.
Would you perhaps be interested to speak/present there? If not, perhaps you could recommend somebody or a specific organization who we could invite?

Possible topics will include:
· Specific examples & focused case studies from across Specialty disease & medical areas i.e. Oncology, Orphan, Inflammatory, Pediatrics + others.
· What do specialist prescribers want and how can we better communicate value?
· New approaches to customer-centric, ethical, trust-focused, value-based sales of innovative drugs in the face of increasingly available and lower-cost generic products
· Best practices in specalist account management
· Mapping and targeting Key Opinion Leaders, payers, and today's new stakeholders
· Understanding, adapting to and selling in, the new cost containment, health technology assessment, evidence-based environment
· Interacting with specialists treating multicultural populations
· Increasingly important role of the Medical Science Liaison to engage KOL
· Marketing approaches to: Healthcare providers, Hispanic, African- American, Asian-Americans, Women, Parents, Elderly
· Digital and social media advances and how to adapt marketing methods to communicate effectively with specialists
· Benefits from supporting investigator initiated trials & publications
· Responding to the growing need of gathering & presenting real world data to demonstrate product value and acheive market access
· How to best incorporate all stakeholders' insight and analysis into company activities
· What differences exist for marketing specialty products to niche & emerging markets?

Consultants and solution providers please note: As we have a high demand for speaking positions and very limited positions available, solution providers who sponsor/exhibit will be given first right of refusal for limited speaking opportunities.

Thanks and best regards
Geraint Collingridge
Event Producer
T: +381 690 307 462
"Knowledge Solutions for Life Sciences"

I am thrilled that "ethical" got thrown into their laundry list. As best as I can tell, these various firms want to assist companies who now employ KOLs to keep doing what they are doing, which presumably includes making a lot of money, despite a hostile environment in which some people are mean enough to say that the odor arising from these activities is starting to seem a bit rank. There seems to be no one considering telling us that maybe the reason there are problems and stresses is that KOL-related activities are inconsistent with medical professionalism and should be curtailed or completely rethought.

By the way, if you don't know the classic joke about consultants, see

1 comment:

Roy M. Poses MD said...

Do you think that Cutting Edge Information is a "key opinion leader service company?" And that the conference you describe was meant for people who work for such companies?