Written by Glen Martin, Senior Vice President, Kineticos
When should your company start focusing on a KOL management plan? Truth be told, the earlier the better; however, most companies wait until they are nearing, or post, approval of their asset.
How does one define Key Opinion Leader Management? I am sure it can be defined in many different ways. I view KOL Management as building relationships, advocacy, and partnerships for the continued growth and development of your science. This starts with validation from key researchers that you are headed in the right direction with your hypothesis. Once these early relationships are established with a small group of researchers, it then broadens to establish relationships and partnerships at clinical study sites. As you move from pre-clinical all the way through approval, KOL relationships, knowledge of your product, along with awareness of your company, should be growing exponentially.
Individuals that are responsible for developing relationships with KOLs grow over time. For example, in a start up organization, the relationship will most likely start with a CEO and/or CMO. As the company progresses towards the approval process, touch points within the company should be, and will be, growing. They may include individuals within various functions, such as Clinical Research & Development, Medical Affairs, and Commercial.
The interactions should be increasing in both frequency and reach as well. At the pre-launch phase, it is critical to have a field based Medical Science Liaison (MSL) team. The MSL’s role is to manage the scientific exchange of information between KOLs and the company. Having an MSL team helps accomplish several different strategic initiatives. First, it allows for continued education and awareness of the company’s product/science. Second, the therapeutic landscape information gathered is critical to a strategic launch plan. Finally, it should allow for discussions related to additional clinical development of the product, or the technology.
At launch and post-launch, the interactions are fast and furious, and happening from multiple touch points. Commercial and Medical Affairs are heavily involved in strengthening relationships with KOLs. By now, there should be strategic and operational plans in place within each of function to ensure full optimization and compliant transparency. I have always found this to be a real world challenge, especially in mid to large size Life Science companies. Finally, and with incredible importance, these relationships should always be centered on the potential clinical value that the product offers to the KOL’s patients.
The KOL management process can be the absolute difference between success and failure of a product launch. It is critical to remember that it’s a fluid process that requires constant management and adjustments to the plan. So, have you started your KOL management plan?
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Glen Martin, Senior Vice President of Kineticos’ Biopharmaceutical Practice, brings over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry to the team. His team is focused on helping commercial stage companies realize their commercial potential at the corporate, portfolio and product levels. Glen’s therapeutic expertise lies within Oncology, Hematology and Urology while his functional expertise includes Medical Affairs, Commercial Launch and KOL Management.