Loïc Plantevin: Reinventing the Role of Medical Affairs



Pharmaceutical companies are struggling to effectively communicate science to healthcare professionals due to the proliferation of data. Loïc Plantevin, a partner with Bain's Healthcare practice, describes how medical affairs can become a strategic ace by presenting high-quality data to the people who influence purchasing decisions.

Read the Bain Brief: Reinventing the Role of Medical Affairs

Read the transcript below.

LOÏC PLANTEVIN: With the proliferation of data and scientific insights, pharmaceutical companies are struggling to communicate [science effectively] to healthcare professionals. Leading firms have understood how to use medical affairs to overcome that deficit. Medical affairs could become a strategic ace, not only to generate but also to communicate scientific insights to all stakeholders and educate them on how to optimally use products. As we all know, physicians [are reducing] their reliance on sales reps and are increasingly turning to data sources.

Most pharma [companies] remain very focused on product [and] regard medical affairs as technical product advisers. Leading pharma firms have understood how to turn medical affairs into real medical value teams. Those medical value teams could actually play three strategic roles. The first role would be to communicate data and real-world evidence to healthcare professionals. Physicians, with an increasing appetite for scientific data and real-world evidence, must sort through this ocean of data. Medical affairs can make sense of this deluge of data and help them to make the right choices for the right patients.

The second role that medical affairs could play: providing customer feedback and being the true voice of clinicians in drug development and portfolio management. For drug development and life cycle management, medical affairs is uniquely positioned, not only to share and provide unmet medical needs, but also clinical requirements. Medical affairs should definitely be part of cross-functional teams and management teams.

The third role medical affairs could play: developing big data and real-world evidence to secure optimal use of products. With a growing appetite for independent data, rise of protocols and guidelines, and greater requirements for transparency, medical affairs could play a key role in developing collaborations with Big Data and big analytics companies. Digital technologies offer massive opportunity to engage differently with customers at much lower cost.

If you want to rethink the role of medical affairs, we would encourage you to start with three questions. Does medical affairs have a clear engagement strategy with all stakeholders? Are we leveraging teams' full potential at all stages of drug development and life cycle management? And do we have the right capabilities to take full advantage of Big Data and big analytics? Companies that reinvent medical affairs will gain an edge and will be in a much better position to take full advantage of their next generation of products.

Read the Bain Brief: Reinventing the Role of Medical Affairs