Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007 - (Page 10)

RUNNING HEAD Leading the Way Neil Kendle outlines how companies should go about smoothing the path for successful long-term relationships with their key opinion leaders (KOLs). ompanies need to plan their opinion leader programmes with a view to developing long-term relationships based on mutual trust, understanding and benefits. Doing this properly is not without its challenges, but the gains for the successful company are enormous. Only a few years ago opinion leader development was conducted largely on an ad hoc basis, with doctors recruited to become involved in individual activities. Whilst companies inevitably knew a few opinion leaders per brand with whom they developed strong working relationships and who worked with them on different activities over many years, the relationships tended to develop in an unplanned way. Opinion leader programmes have now become integral to strategic brand plans. There is a new recognition that planned, long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with a reasonably large cohort of opinion leaders in each relevant therapy area C should exist. Long-term relationships develop mutual trust, allow both sides to understand how best to work with each other and enable the opinion leaders to get to know the company and its products in their therapy area. What does long term mean? It may be a few years, the life cycle of a brand or of several consecutive brands, or even, in some cases, the working life of a doctor. Preparing for long-term relationships In moving to planned long-term relationships there are a number of issues for a company to consider. These are detailed below. When should a company start its opinion leader activities? The company may already have a product, and hence existing relationships, in the therapeutic area, but there must be a first time it gets involved in a disease area. The dilemma is that there are benefits from starting as early as possible but, of course, the earlier companies get involved, the greater the risk of a product failing and the investment being wasted. In an analysis in the US, almost 90% of pharma companies said they had started their opinion leader management activities by the end of Phase II. Some companies claimed to start their programmes as early as the pre-clinical phase. Unless the company has several compounds in the same therapeutic area in the pipeline, or has investment in studies at such a level as to put any spend on opinion leader activities in the shade, a sensible approach would be to undertake only some basic activities at a preclinical stage. These would generally be a rudimentary identification of opinion leaders in the area — particularly to find investigators — and one or more advisory boards. However, by Phase I (or Phase II at the latest), the full opinion leader programme should have kicked in. 10 OCTOBER 2007 PHARMACEUTICAL EXECUTIVE EUROPE

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007

The Brand Exchange
Focused and Flexible
Making A Global Vision Work
Leading the Way
The OnlineConsumer
Wired to the Future
Co-ordinate Your Communications
In the Public Interest
Seek First to Understand

Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007