Field Medical Stakeholders: Episode 17 — Marketing
At the end of this series of podcasts, the participant should be able to:
- Discuss the functions and activities of key internal partners
- Identify potential areas for compliant collaboration by MSLs with key internal partners
MODERATOR: Kathryn Gann, PhD
Independent ConsultantMedical Affairs Professional Society
INTERVIEWER: Nancy Ortiz
Exec Director, Global Medical Affairs & Field Medical, Strongbridge BiopharmaMedical Affairs Professional Society
INTERVIEWEE: Michele Irwin Cunningham, MBA
Vice President, Commercial Operations, Strongbridge Biopharma plcMedical Affairs Professional Society
Following is an automated transcription provided by otter.ai. Please excuse inaccuracies.
Welcome to the Medical Affairs Professional Society’s Field Medical Focus Area Working Group’s podcast series, entitled: “Field Medical Stakeholders: Partnering for today and tomorrow.” In this 17th podcast, we will discuss marketing. I’m Kathryn Gann. I’m a member of the Field Medical Focus Area Working Group. I’ll be the moderator for this podcast. Currently, I’m an independent consultant in medical affairs. Having spent my 30 year career as an MSL, MSL, manager and MSL trainer.
Our legal disclaimer is as follows: The views expressed in this recording are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect on the opinions of MAPS, or the companies with which they are affiliated. This presentation is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or regulatory advice.
We encourage you to engage in conversations about partnering with field medical stakeholders with other MAPS members via MAPS Connect on the MAPS website. Simply log in with the email address and password associated with your MAPS account and click on the “Discuss” tab. Then scroll down to field medical to post a question or review previous postings.
The objectives for this series of podcasts are: At the end of this series, the participant will be able to one discuss the functions activities of key internal stakeholders, and to identify potential areas for compliant collaboration by MSL with those key internal stakeholders.
I’d like to thank today’s panelists for sharing their subject matter expertise with the MAPS membership. Speaking today are Nancy Ortiz, Executive Director, Global Medical Affairs and Field Medical at Strongbridge Biopharma. Nancy is going to be our interviewer. And Michelle Cunningham, Vice President Commercial Operations at Strongbridge Biopharma. Michelle is our interviewee. Nancy, as I turn this over to you, could you please briefly provide some information about yourself and about your current position?
Absolutely. Hello, Kathy, and thank you for the warm welcome. My name is Nancy Ortiz and I am the Executive Director of Global Medical Affairs and I also lead our field medical team at Strongbridge Biopharma, which is a small pharmaceutical company focused on rare and orphan diseases. I’m also currently a member of the MAPS Field Medical Focus Area Working Group. I have nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, ranging from Big Pharma where I started my career as an MSL, to small biotech startups, where I’ve held a variety of positions in Medical Affairs, including the opportunity to lead and build teams. And now I have the pleasure of introducing Michelle Cunningham, Vice President of Commercial Operations at Strongbridge. Michelle, welcome to this podcast.
Thank you, Nancy. I appreciate you having me.
Michelle, would you please introduce yourself and provide our listeners with some background information?
Sure, as you mentioned, I’m currently the Vice President of Commercial Operations at Strongbridge. I’ve been here for over five years. I’ve worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years and began as a market researcher on the vendor partner side. I then transitioned to the client side and I’ve worked in operations, market research and marketing across various therapeutic categories. I’ve been working in rare disease for seven years, which honestly I find so rewarding.
That’s great! I concur completely on that part. So now I know the focus of this podcast is on marketing; however, you mentioned you lead commercial operations. Can you tell us a little bit about what that entails and how it relates to marketing?
At our company, commercial operations encompasses things like sales operations, data management, analytics, market research, and also marketing. So marketing is a piece of the commercial app. Got it?
Great. So now let’s dig a little bit deeper into marketing. Can you explain to us what marketing does?
Absolutely. Marketing helps develop the brand strategy and executes against the strategy. Marketing leverages market research, which I mentioned earlier, to inform the strategy and provide insights from key customers, such as the healthcare professionals, patients and payers. Marketing is really involved in everything from positioning your product or products in the market, to targeting customers, developing branded and unbranded messaging, and working closely with our agency partners to develop and implement promotional programs and tactics. We strive to increase education in the therapeutic market and increase awareness of our brands or products through tactics such as printed materials, websites and digital banner ads, patient Ambassador programs, Speakers bureaus, conference presentations, and symposia. I and my team work closely with various cross functional partners, like sales, patient services, advocacy, market access, and certainly Medical Affairs.
Thank you. So what I’m hearing loud and clear is collaboration is certainly the key to success for marketing and Medical Affairs would certainly play an important part in that. What is your understanding of the role of the Medical Science Liaison?
From my perspective, you know, in the industry, MSL really plays an important role in pharmaceuticals. They’re the medical field facing team that engages in scientific and clinical dialogue with experts. This exchange consists of providing information on both product data and disease state education. MSL teams play an important role for any compound, especially during pre-launch when they’re the only field facing team that engages the external community and can provide invaluable insights back to the organization. Other key aspects of the MSL role include looking for opportunities to partner with key opinion leaders on research or publications. And they work closely with our clinical trial investigators as our MSL did for our phase three trials.
Well, thank you for that, Michelle. Given your understanding of the MSL role, and Medical Affairs, how do you envision Field Medical interacting with your department? Do you have any best practices to share and on how MSLs can partner with marketing?
Yes, as you know, we work closely and compliantly with Medical Affairs in a variety of initiatives. They often represent the voice of our physician customers. They’re in the field talking with healthcare professionals, building relationships to better understand the nuances of the disease areas we work on; the diagnostic algorithms, unmet needs, treatment and experiences and relevant competitive insights. As I mentioned earlier, market research falls under the responsibilities of commercial operations. As we develop survey instruments and discussion guides for market research, it’s imperative we represent the survey questions accurately incredibly. MSLs helped us shape the questions required to conduct market research. We often also collaborate and planning advisory boards, developing separate and distinct commercial and medical sections and objectives for working together to ensure the execution is not repetitive for our advisors, and overall will inform the various parts of the business MSL. They’re also integral in identifying those advisors who are experts in specific disease areas, which is very important particularly in rare disease. And then Medical Affairs leads the publication planning workstreams, but it’s best practice to review the plan with the marketing teams to ensure alignment on how various publications may impact and inform the commercial strategy.
Thanks, Michelle, I couldn’t agree with you more particularly around alignment and ensuring that you know all functions, particularly medical and marketing are certainly working together. I know in various pharmaceutical companies training is a very key component for MSLs. Can you share your experience around training and other any other key marketing initiatives that medical can partner with?
Yeah, definitely. Another best practice we utilize is to partner with MSLs for commercial training of sales, marketing and other internal stakeholders. MSL helped create training modules so we can develop a deep understanding of a disease state and various treatment options within that disease, educating on both our own and competitive full product labels, including the trial design, mechanisms of action, and key efficacy and safety data. We really work closely to ensure alignment on messaging we want to make sure that the scientific communication platform led by Medical Affairs informs all our promotional messaging and then Medical Affairs and MSLs help as consultants to marketing and other commercial colleagues. As I mentioned earlier, patient services market access and advocacy to ensure educational programs and promotional materials such as webinars, core visual aids, patient brochures and adherence initiatives reflect the HCP voice or healthcare professional voice and help us identify opportunities to better support and serve our physician and patient customers. I know I’ve really said a lot here, Nancy, which speaks to the important collaboration and marketing and Medical Affairs in our industry. But to boil it all down, we could not do our jobs in marketing and commercial as a whole if we did not have the collaborative partnerships within the Medical Affairs team, including the invaluable MSL. There are guardrails that we follow to maintain the appropriate swim lane but there are many opportunities for marketing to partner compliantly with MSL.
Well, Michelle, I, I’m very impressed with all that we’ve discovered today. Thank you so much for joining us today and providing these great insights and really great opportunities to illustrate how marketing and Medical Affairs can partner. So thank you so very much for joining us today.
No problem, thank you for having me. It’s been a great discussion.
Great, thank you so much, Michelle. Kathy, I’ll turn it over to you.
Thank you, Nancy and Michelle. I want to thank you both for participating today. I feel like we got two for one here. I didn’t realize that Michelle was also going to be speaking about commercial operations, which I found extremely interesting, even from my own viewpoint, because I’ve never completely understood everything that goes into commercial operations. I kind of understood marketing but hadn’t had the chance to sit on cross functional brand teams for many years. But understanding more about commercial operations was really enlightening to me. And one of the things that I took away from this talk or interview between Nancy and Michelle is the whole idea about collaborative partnership and I’m going to steal that phrase and use it as I talk to other MSLs and people who want to be an MSL and who are afraid about how do you work in pharma. And a collaborative partnership is just a wonderful way to put it. So thank you for driving home that message. I think in line with our learning objectives now, our participants should have a better understanding of both marketing and commercial operations, and how MSLs can compliantly interact with both of those.
This has been the 17th podcast in our series on the topic of “Field Medical Stakeholders: Partnering for today and tomorrow.” If you’re a MAPS member, thank you for your support of MAPS. If you’re not yet a MAPS member and would like access to additional resources in this area, please visit the MAPS website to explore joining. And that website is: medicalaffairs.org/membership. This concludes the podcast.