Medical Science Liaison, a conversion for the CRAs?
Jena Chun’s article
As a Clinical Research professional, do you know the term “Medical Science Liaison” (MSL)? This is not a medical field … A clue? Maybe you have already worked with a Medical Science Liaison … do you know that some CRAs have already converted in this profession?
Indeed, a Medical Science Liaison refers to a profession in the field of pharmaceutical industry. In this article, we propose you to learn more about this little-known profession.
What is the role of MSL?
The Medical Science Liaison, or MSL, is a scientific expert in the Industry of Health and specifically in therapeutic areas well-defined of the research. The MSL plays a key role within companies of the pharmaceutical industry because he strengthens their scientific reputation.
The MSL plays an intermediary role between the Industry of Health and the development of a product as he follows and looks after the different stages of the life cycle of a / the product (s) (e.g., communicating the latest medical and scientific knowledge about his marketed products, ensuring that they are used appropriately and efficiently …) and ensures of the commercial success of his products.
A MSL is also identified under the terms of “Medical Liaison”, “Medical Manager”, “Regional Scientific Manager”, “Clinical Liaison” and “Scientific Affairs Manager” … or in French: Conseiller scientifique régional, Médecin régional, Médecin/Pharmacien de l’information médicale, Médecin produit, Manager (responsable) médical, Directeur médical
What skills should have a Medical Science Liaison?
Here is a list of skills that should have a MSL.
To ensure the success of its products, an MSL shall establish and maintain good relationships with “key opinion leaders” or “KOL” by being a part of a medical and scientific community. He is also required to collaborate with other professionals, working in other services of the pharmaceutical industry such as Sales or Marketing department, for example. This requires the organization and running of scientific presentations to pharmaceutical and marketing teams (preparation of posters, slideshows …). Furthermore, a MSL will be required to travel regularly at national and international level, at conferences or congresses.
As a medical expert and scientific responsible, he must meet all requests for medical or scientific information about his product. The spread and the transmission of the new scientific data related to his products can be done through a network of health professionals that he will have to maintain and develop.
The ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with colleagues and clients is essential to become a MSL.
The interpersonal skills is essential: the MSL has to work closely with many health professionals (KOLs, opinion leaders, investigators, pharmacists, …) by participating in all stages of the product development process (development of new treatment protocols, implementation of a study …).
Therefore, communication skills (written and oral) are essential, both at the relational and scientific level.
Doctors, opinion leaders, experts in defined therapeutic areas are called “KOLs”. In other words, they are healthcare professionals of ‘reference’: neurologists, pediatricians, doctors, etc.
An MSL manages one or more projects. Indeed, not only he is a medical and scientific expert, but he must also:
- be in charge of the promotion, the clinical development of a product, by developing and implementing communication and development strategies (marketing, sales forces)
- Design, implement and coordinate research projects, implementation and monitoring of clinical studies required for product development
- develop relationships with scientific experts (network, development of his community) and the medical body
- train medical staff
- write scientific publications
A MSL must show leadership.
Skills in Clinical Research
Being brought to work on clinical operations, the MSL must have knowledge and / or a professional experience in Clinical Research: knowledge of work in hospital environment, Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and ICHs of methodology and conduct of a clinical trial.
And for qualities?
To be eligible for a MSL position, besides the interpersonal and communication skills, other qualities are essential such as dynamism, rigor, organization, analytical skills, adaptability, ability to teamwork, diplomacy, proactive, listening, responsiveness, etc.
Which course should I take to become MSL?
As MSL, so scientist, it is necessary:
- To have followed a BS degree with a PhD in Science or Biology, Medicine or Pharmacy. However, given the current context (shortage of doctors in France or candidates in general), it is possible to become MSL from a Master level but with strong experience in a specific therapeutic area.
- To practice English fluently due to the international dimension of the pharmaceutical industry and international travel
- To have expertise in defined therapeutic areas. Currently, most therapeutic areas seeking MSL are the neurosciences, cardiovascular diseases and oncology.
- Have experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
And the pay?
A MSL at the beginning of career is entitled to a gross salary of € 48k, this varying of course with the experience, but also the level of education (PhD or Master). A MSL will evolve into positions with greater responsibilities later.
As consultants for the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries, the MSLs are now very involved in activities related to clinical trials.
Although their role is changing, the MSL remains a little-known profession due to their low proportion compared to other professions in the pharmaceutical industry. However, demand is growing: according to this website (http://www.themsls.org/mission-and-vision), “on the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States, the role of MSL increased by an average of 76% since 2005 “.
Now you know more about the role of “Medical Science Liaison”. If you would like more information about this, you can go to this site:
Who know, maybe will you be required as CRO, CSC or Project Manager to work with a MSL during your professional career or even maybe you will convert to this profession 🙂
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