The Role of a Medical Advisor...
A Pharmaceutical Physician working in medical affairs will have a hugely varied role. The breadth of variation will often depend on the role itself and the size of the company they are joining. Given that a physician has had the first-hand experience of a clinical setting, they will have a key role in a commercial setting in translating and clarifying clinical data for colleagues working across many different areas of a business. This role is crucial as a medicine moves from the latter stages of clinical development through its pre and post-marketing phase. Core elements of a Medical Advisor role would revolve around working directly with clinicians in relation to the investigator or company-sponsored research, training marketing and sales teams on a product or disease area, providing on-going medical input into brand teams, reviewing submissions to health technology organisations, and presenting material to advisory boards. Additionally, the Medical Affairs Physician is an integral person in approving materials for medical marketing purposes and ensuring copy and publications are scientifically accurate. In the UK, the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) operates in compliance with the ABPI Code of Practice, which sets the standard and ethical code for promotional materials of developed and marketed drugs. The Medical Affairs Physician will regularly interact with colleagues in teams such as marketing, clinical research, health economics, pharmacovigilance, sales and regulatory affairs.
The ability to interact, communicate and work in partnership with individuals from a commercial setting forms a key part of being successful in medical affairs. Typical responsibilities for a Medical Advisor role include (but are not limited to):
- Acting as a medical expert for a designated therapy area or product when interacting with the brand team, and formulating a medical strategy for that brand
- Reviewing and signing-off of product promotional materials in accordance with the regulatory Codes of Practice
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with external contacts such as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), patient organisations and professional bodies within the therapy area; ensuring valuable insight and support is gained when then formulating the brand strategy internally
- Delivering training materials and briefings to the marketing and sales teams
- Delivering scientific and clinical presentations to customers where required
- Working with pharmacovigilance teams to understand the safety profile of a product
- Working with clinical research teams in relation to potential project management of Investigator Initiated Studies (IISs) and the subsequent study follow-ups
- Acting as part of the team in formulating and putting forward clinical arguments for Health Technology Assessment (HTA) submissions
- Assessing competitor activity within the same product/therapy area.
Beyond the first role as a Medical Advisor, there is a clear pathway to move upward to more senior medical affairs roles and ultimately Global Director / Chief Medical Officer positions. A Medical Affairs Physician will inevitably work towards becoming a Medical Director of a team and/or a Director of regional or global strategy for a specific product or therapy area.