Medical Affairs: Structuring & Strong Leadership Critical for Success
Faced with shrinking sales forces, pharmaceutical companies are relying on other functions such as Medical Affairs to enhance the efforts of sales and marketing to accelerate product and business growth. Due to the increasingly important nature of the Medical Affairs function, organizations are constantly re-evaluating which structures and operations make Medical Affairs groups more efficient and effective.
A strong Medical Affairs function is essential to meeting current challenges in clinical development, market education, and regulatory compliance. Understanding the best practices in structuring the Medical Affairs function can help organizations to better execute their day-to-day Medical Affairs activities. From one of our recent Medical Affairs’ Consortiums we found the following key findings related to Medical Affairs’ scope and structuring.
- Global Scope: 55% of Mature Markets participants and 50% of Emerging Markets participants indicated that Medical Affairs’ geographic span of responsibility is global, including the U.S.
- Structuring: 45% of the Mature Markets participants favor a centralized approach for their Medical Affairs organization, while only 17% of Emerging Markets participants favor a centralized approach. Companies in the Emerging Market segment generally favor a decentralized structure by region, most likely because these groups are affiliates of global Medical Affairs groups. Trends towards Hybrid and decentralized structures reflect the varying regulatory hurdles encountered within different regions or therapeutic areas.
- Leadership: More than 4 of 10 Mature Market companies in the benchmark class report to R&D/Clinical. This is unlike in the Emerging Markets, where more than 6 out of 10 respondents report either to Commercial/Marketing or to a hybrid (Commercial & R&D) function. While Medical Affairs is separating itself from Commercial in Mature Markets, this separation has yet to take hold within Emerging Markets.
In recent years the Medical Affairs function in the pharmaceutical industry has been plagued by limited resources, personnel turnover, and a rigorous regulatory environment. By properly understanding the best practices in structuring and leadership, Medical Affairs functions can operate effectively and will create a vital bridge between an organization and one of the most critical stakeholders in the healthcare marketplace: physicians.