Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On the Care and Feeding of KOLs: Attend a Conference

Thanks to Dr. Barney Carroll, who in turn apparently knows a mole somewhere within the pharmaceutical marketing industry, I was provided with a copy of the brochure for the "2nd KOL Relationship Summit," to be held in Philadelphia on August 9-10. But the sponsor, "exlpharma," is hardly keeping it a secret, and you can look for yourself:

For those of you who may have started reading this blog last week, "KOL" stands for "key opinion leader," which is drug industry-ese for a shill--a physician, often an academic physician, who's respected in her field and who, if you can bribe them to transmit your marketing message, is likely to sway her fellow physicians. But of course such crude terms as "shill" and "bribe" do not appear anywhere in the brochure, which explains:

"The 2nd KOL Relationship Summit helps pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies, whether large or small, establish a reliable method of identifying, mapping, recruiting, and communicating with both global and local KOLs . Attendees will learn how to drive the success of a specific drug or medical device, educate physicians, and maintain a balance with compliance and business objectives. As well, this event explains current rules and regulations impacting the industry surrounding KOLs, how to utilize social media in KOL development and communication, suggest methods of best practices for determining fair market value, and bridging KOL relationships within a company to enhance team dynamics."

You know doubt want to know how to do all this, so you will not kick at paying the registration fee of $1695 in advance, or $1995 at the door. (Add an extra $300 if you want to attend a special workshop.)

What particularly caught my attention is the following session:

Achieving the Right Balance between Developing a Positive Working Relationship with KOLs and Ensuring their Ability to Maintain their Professional Independence

  • Understanding what activities you can reasonably expect to engage KOLs in

  • Knowing what is appropriate to ask the KOL to assist with and what is over the line

  • Avoiding ethical conflicts both domestically and internationally through the education and explanation of KOL involvement

  • Setting a standard of belief’s [sic] about your company and your product with your KOL and communicating this standard to the KOL

  • Synchronizing work ethics with KOLs and being in harmony through an understanding of the right way and wrong way of working with your KOL

Speaker: Paul Meade, MSc, MPH, President, THOUGHT LEADER SELECT

Of course, I think it is a wonderful thing that people in the drug industry marketing business are concerned about ethics. I am tempted to write Mr. Meade and ask him if he'd like to share any of his ethical insights with the readers of this blog. But somehow I suspect that the answer will be--if I really want to know, where's my $1695?

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