So what does a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) actually do all day? You may have read that an MSL interacts with KOLs, works closely with other internal stakeholders in the pharmaceutical company and is a scientific expert …… but what does that really look like in a normal working day?
In order to answer this question, I’ve developed an example of a “typical” MSL day. As cliché as it sounds, no two days are the same and there is no such thing as a typical day for an MSL. For me, it’s a huge plus of the role, it keeps it interesting, challenging and teaches you to be organised, flexible and how to work from anywhere!
9.00 AM to 9.30 AM
Check Google Scholar Alerts
The day starts in my home office by checking the google scholar alerts I have set up for the product I work on (Drug X), my competitor’s product and the therapeutic area I work in. I scan the abstracts of each new publication and take note of anything that can be used in KOL meetings to demonstrate my scientific expertise and add value to the KOL.
A new paper has been published investigating the side effects of Drug X in the elderly. Knowing the sales reps often get asked about tolerability in this patient population, I share the paper with the brand manager for Drug X as he may want to disseminate it to the sale team to help them answer doctor’s questions.
9.30 am to 10.30 am
Tip: A successful MSL is one that collaborates with the sales reps
I work closely with a sales rep called John who was organised for me to present to a group of doctors. John did a promotional call with this group of doctors last week and was asked a number of off-label questions which I can answer. I prepare a 10 slide presentation that will answer their questions and do an additional literature search to supplement my slides.
10.30 am – 11.00 am
Travel to meeting
11.00 am to 11.30 am
Set up for presentation
Tip: Being late is never a good look – hospitals are big places, give yourself plenty of time to find out where you need to be.
I find the room I’m presenting in, check the projector is working and grab a coffee while I wait for the meeting to start.
11.30 am – 12.30 pm
Tip: Look for an opportunity to differentiate yourself from sales reps during the presentation
I introduce myself as a member of the medical affairs team, a colleague of John’s and begin the presentation. There are lots of questions and discussion throughout the presentation.
One doctor asked about the possibility of leading a clinical trial with Drug X and I organise to meet him 1:1 at a later date to discuss further. Another doctor asks if I have access to a promotional leaflet for Drug X. I explain John manages promotional materials and I’ll pass on his request to John to ensure he gets the material – this provides an additional opportunity for John to see this doctor and reiterates that the MSL is a non-promotional role.
12. 30 pm – 1.00 pm
Meeting with sales rep
Tip: Communicate regularly with sales reps to ensure all customer needs are met
I organise to catch up with John for a coffee in a café near the hospital. He has a few questions about some of the clinical trial data for Drug X. I answer his questions and tell him how the presentation went and share the doctor’s request for promotional material.
1.00 pm – 2.00 pm
Dial into Teleconference (TC)
Tip: Always have your earphones with you so you can dial into TCs from anywhere
I dial into the weekly TC with my boss and other MSL colleagues from the cafe. We discuss KOL meetings, an upcoming advisory board we are organising and how our medical projects are tracking.
2.00 pm – 3.00 pm
I meet a KOL who is pivotal to the success of one of the medical projects I am leading. I use the KOL meeting planner to identify the objective of my meeting and the questions I need to ask to ensure the meeting goes well.
After the meeting, I record the insights into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The KOL mentioned a patient on Drug X experienced an adverse drug reaction so I report it to our pharmacovigilance department.
3.00 pm – 3.30 pm
Travel home from meeting.
3.30 – 4.30 pm
The brand manager for Drug X is developing a new promotional material and I review it to ensure it is accurate, balanced and in line with the local code* . I make note of changes required to make the piece compliant and double check all the scientific data is correct.
*In Australia the local code is the medicines Australia code of conduct.
4.30 pm – 5.00 pm
Tip: Book all your travel at the same time and save all details in your calendar which is synced to your phone for convenient access to flight numbers, hotel address ect.
I book flights, a hotel and a rental car for an upcoming interstate trip.
5.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Plan KOL meetings
Tip: Organise to meet numerous KOLs at upcoming conferences
I review my stakeholder map and reach out to KOLs on my stakeholder plan using the email template in the MSL UPSKILL PACKAGE. KOLs are busy people so I try to plan my meetings 4-6 weeks in advance. I also try and meet as many KOLs as possible at conferences to ensure I get the most value from attending conferences.
Shut down my laptop and enjoy my evening.
If you have any questions about being an MSL, please contact me to find out more about how to transition to an MSL job.