Marketing to Medico-Marketing: leading to new Buzzword “Scientific Engagements”


Medico-marketing is not a very new entity for Pharma Industry but this is not from the archaeological times too. Yes, it entered into the Pharma industry recently but the way medico marketing has gained importance can be described as second to none. This important role has various notations like Medico-marketing Specialist (MMS), Medical Science Liaison (MSL), Regional Medical Advisor (RMA), Manager Medical Affairs (MMA), Clinical Scientific Manager (CSM), Scientific Education Manager (SEM), Medical Specialist (MS) & more.

What is Medico-marketing? 

The literal understanding of the term “medico-marketing” is a close collaboration between medical and marketing team to develop an effective strategy for better acceptability of a drug molecule or clinical data in the doctor’s chamber. This also means an Ethical, Unbiased & Evidence based marketing of drugs to HCPs.

How it operates: New Data comes from Trials, Post Marketing Studies (PMS) as well as from Real World Experiences (RWEs). With the increasing usage of social media, lot of data is available on social media related to drugs adverse events or drugs reviews. Health Care Professionals (HCPs) want to understand all these data for better clinical decision making & to keep them updated. But they also expect the data to be presented as simple to understand entity. The regular sales colleagues are expert in marketing & sales fundamentals but when it comes to deciphering scientific data & resolving in-depth Queries, it appears as a new skill set to them & special training is required for that. So, a new breed of pharma professionals is required which is going to have special skill sets related to data analysis, bio-sciences basic knowledge & business acumen. It is a tough task to develop these skills into a single role due to multi-disciplinary acumen required for this role.  Albeit, Medico-marketing is a challenging task but professionals with bio-sciences background & Sales professionals with orientation to Scientific data have started taking up these challenges & now a new breed is ready to take over the world of medico-marketing.

Trend setters– Medico-marketing  started from the international MNCs which developed the medical affairs department under which medico-marketing role was designed. Bio-sciences graduates, Licensed Doctors, PhD. etc. joined the bandwagon & the role started developing. In Indian pharma Industry perspective, the role is slowly coming up in Indian MNCs, which have started to realize the role of MEDICO-MARKETING recently.

The various factors which are creating a positive pull to Medico-marketing role are:

  1. Complex molecules in research: In the contemporary times companies are investing up-to 8 to 13 percent of the revenues into the research. The R & D capacity of most of the pharma companies is increasing. It is leading to the advent of new molecules which are complex in nature per say Biologics. Explaining these complex molecules & pertaining data to HCPs is not an easy task. Medico-marketing makes the task easier due to the specialized skill-set of data-analytics, Insight taking, in-depth Scientific information.
  2. Regulations from Govt. agencies: There are rules & regulations, code of conduct established by the pharma regulators for every country. Direct engagement of HCPs from sales calls is decreasing due to stringent control on interactions & monitoring. Sales calls need to be more interactive on molecule usage & rationale basis. Sales team need to be trained on medical data & other scientific aspects. Medico-marketing supports in this function too.
  3. Internet connects to HCPs easier: Now is the age of digitization. If the HCP is busy with patients, a link can be sent which can start a involvement into discussion or direct information provision on molecule. Medico-marketing teams are trained in these digital aspects & can handle the digital interactions with HCPs in a much smoother way than a sales colleague.
  4. Perceptional Feedback from HCPs & Patients: Due to growing control over the HCP- Pharma company engagements, HCPs are also having a perception of finding a safer way to interact with pharma companies. Also Patients look towards Pharma companies for patient support programs & information dissemination programs for their disease. Medico-marketing teams can train the Third Party Counselors which can keep patients updated about their disease patterns. Medico-marketing interactions are more preferred due to deep engagement models involved in the interactions, insight gathering, data dissemination for better clinical outcomes to name a few.
  5. Huge budget is allotted for Innovative scientific engagements: These days the CMEs can be done at the click of buttons. Facebook live & YouTube live streams are gaining importance. After some time, similar digital interaction providers will mushroom in the industry. Medical teams are provided with big budgets which can help them innovate different kind of engagement models for HCPs.
  6. Pharma sales professionals to take Cue from this trend & be Future Ready: The demand & supply is the basic essence of business. As medico-marketing activities are on a rise, the demand of skilled Medico-marketing professionals will increase & sales teams need to be vigilante on this. Along with the business acumen, the scientific orientation of explaining the product should get imbibed in the professional approach so that sales teams are future ready for scientific in-clinic discussions.
  7. Marketing strategies have major inputs from Medico-marketing teams: The importance of medical team can be assessed from the fact that all decision taken by marketing team have inputs from the medico-marketing team. The medical teams are gaining attention in all companies whether MNCs or Domestic players.
  8. Invest in Medico-marketing to survive: Those pharma companies which have still not invested in medico-marketing teams, will face tough time in future as the products launching ahead are going to be complex & also regulations will not allow the sales teams to influence the Physicians directly.
  9. New Concept of Business output to Business Outcome: The concept of business output is changing & shifting to business outcomes (while Output is immediate treatment response, Outcomes are long term impact of treatment like increase in number of days at work). The pharma companies have started to look into the long-term outcomes of their products as the number of Quality days added to a patient’s life is also important along with total revenue. Typically, the regulators have started thinking in this way too. The Pharmaco-economics studies can justify the use of a costly product & its entry into Institutions or in National health programs becomes easier. Strong medico-marketing personnel are required to present these data to institutes or government regulatory bodies.

Whether it is the changing landscape of Pharma drug delivery, Logistics, Scientific data dissemination or changing Regulations, everywhere the newer & innovative ways of doing business are coming up. Pharma Industry has always been very smart to adapt with these paradigm changes & Medico-marketing team will be key contributor in this case.

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