Medical Science Liaison & MSL

A Medical Science Liaison is a medical professional who concentrates on a certain disease state or therapeutic area. For example, they can focus on Oncology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Infectious Diseases, etc.

The main task that they do is they build relationships with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, researchers, clinicians, and other providers in the medical field while at the same time making sure that medical products are properly used.

They also serve as advisors and experts for relevant scientific resources/data. In other words, MSLs play a very important role in the medical industry.

Do you aspire to be one of them? Here are some things that you should know:

What degree do you need to be a Medical Science Liaison?

To be a Medical Science Liaison, you need to go through scientific and clinical training. You also need to have several doctoral degrees in life or physical sciences, such as PharmD (pharmacist), MD (physician), or Ph.D. 55% of MSLs are PharmDs, according to the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs.

What other roles can PharmDs, MDs or PhDs fulfill aside from being a Medical Science Liaison?

Chief Medical Officer

CMOs have the highest ranking function in the medical affairs organization. They direct and manage the development of plans and strategies in the organization. From the interactions with Health Authorities to overseeing interpretation of clinical trial data, CMOs do all of those. Aside from the Health Authorities, they also communicate with cooperative groups, investigators, academic thought leaders, and other medical stakeholders.

Medical Information Specialist

Also known as the Drug Information department, most PharmDs begin their medical affair journey. The entry-level role is a medical information specialist, and their task is to support pharmaceutical companies by answering questions from healthcare providers.

They provide written, verbal, and video responses to product inquiries from institutions, payors, and healthcare providers.  Aside from responding to questions, they can conduct a quality assurance review for standard response documents/SRDs.  

Medical Director

The main task of a Medical Director is to lead and guide Medical Affairs activities that are focused on Life Cycle Management (LCM). They are the ones who define the LCM strategy,  ensure the compliant execution of worldwide global medical affairs activities, set yearly goals, and even ensure excellence when it comes to standards and practices compliance.

They commonly work with different medical organizations for global medical functions, international medical affairs operations, medical research, collaborations with patient advocacy,  clinical development, marketing, MSLs, and US medical teams. They also collaborate with research groups and payors, ensuring strong teamwork on global, regional, and local levels within their organization. They are also in charge of developing in-depth knowledge and understanding of the disease state landscape, focusing on their institution.

Vice President, Medical Affairs

The role of every Vice President of Medical Affairs is to manage, grow, and expand the Medical Affairs Team. They provide leadership, vision, and management of all the activities in medical affairs. Their tasks include communications with the Advisory Board’s leadership, key external stakeholders, patient engagement and identification, development of medical and publication strategies, and planning.

And their most important role is to translate competitive information, clinical experience, and patient reviews to improve company goals and protocols and develop strategies.

Director, Medical Affairs

In collaboration with other field professionals, they are in charge of developing an in-depth understanding of the local healthcare region among payers, health systems, and other key influencers in the area. In addition, this position usually pushes an overarching medical strategy between local, national, or global healthcare regions to enhance customer experience and patient outcomes.

They also identify opportunities to advance healthcare delivery through a comprehensive population and clinical research opportunities that contain Real World Evidence (RWE). They also work closely with marketing and sales to ensure shared accountability among the designated region.

Publication Manager

Publication Managers work on the product’s publications with the stakeholders, and they also oversee peer-reviewed asset-level publications activities. In addition, they are the ones who strategize publication plans and integrate global data dissemination and deliver top-of-line publications ideas about the company’s entire scientific communication strategies that the organization is doing.

Publication managers develop integrated global data dissemination/strategic publication plans and deliver high-quality publications thinking about the company’s overall scientific communication strategies and the medical congresses that are taking place.

Health Economics Outcomes Research Liaison

HEOR liaisons are the ones who keep a network of external relationships among the HEOR thought leaders, Population Health decision-makers, Data Scientists, and RWE researchers inside the prioritized National and Regional Payor accounts and Health Systems. They are responsible for managing numerous internal relationships such as Medical Operations, Market Access, Medical Affairs, and HEOR. In addition, HEOR liaisons serve as the primary clinical point of contact for key HEOR thought influencers and leaders.

Patient Advocacy

People who work for patient advocacy are the main channel connecting their organization and external stakeholders. They have multiple functions with the organization. For example, patient advocacy professionals work with the Research and Development, Medical Affairs, Access, Regulatory,  Commercial, etc., for patients. They are also considered to be the patient’s voice.

Drug Safety/Pharmacovigilance

This position focuses on monitoring signal detection and management practices in clinical datasets to reveal safety signals for patients’ protection and to unveil issues as soon as they pop from a safety viewpoint immediately. In addition, part of their job is to help prepare regulatory fillings like PADER, PSUR, and NDA/IND yearly updates.

MSL Director

MSL directors usually focus on managing the field MSL team. They develop MSL’s KPIs- Key Performance Indicators, monitor MSL goal achievement, and coach MSLs. In addition, MSL directors are assigned to work in internal activities inside the internal medical affairs functions.

Digital Medical Affairs Professional

These professionals mainly focus on innovating the digital functions of medical affairs to push strategic visions and boost the medical affairs team by using big data.

Medical Affairs Excellence Leader

These people are usually involved in process and project management. In addition, they help execute the Medical Affairs Strategic Plan and make sure that it aligns well with all stakeholders. Medical Affairs Excellence Leaders manage multiple initiatives inside the medical affairs functions. They also plan for high-value and effective solutions across the globe and the country. Their primary focus is on Internal System Improvement, Training Excellence, Insights Management, Stakeholder Engagement, and Data Dissemination.

Medical Affairs Operations-  Medical Affairs Operations professionals

Medical affairs operations personnel are the ones who manage the organization’s budget for investigator-initiated studies, travel, advisory boards, and medical congress. They are also responsible for supporting all of the Medical Affairs functions with their needs, especially for Strategy & Research program timelines.

Medical Writer

In pharmaceutical advertising or publications agencies,Medical Writers are the ones who develop and build medical content for a particular disease state. They are responsible for developing various resources, including but not limited to clinical monographs, internal training resources, and advisory board content. In addition to those, they are also in charge of building and writing complex scientific data to a broader set of audiences around the wide-ranging therapeutic areas.

Indeed, there are many areas in the medical field that need to be filled out. Still, before you aspire to be in this field, especially in the field of Medical Science Liaisons, you have to prepare your heart for challenges and open your mind to years of training and learning.

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