Medical Education: A Platform for Success - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Medical Education: A Platform for Success
By pumping the science behind a brand, pharmaceutical companies can garner early loyalists—before a drug even hits the market.


Pharmaceutical Executive


The best time to establish a scientific platform is in late Phase II clinical trials. At this point, a medical education agency, working closely with a pharma company, will conduct a comprehensive review of the clinical study data and other scientific literature on the compound and undertake an in-depth analysis of: how it may impact management of the targeted disease; the clinical utility of today's therapeutic options; the potential gaps between today's treatment approach and how the new drug might influence the current approach at some time in the future. Then, the information gets synthesized into the scientific platform.

Applying the Platform

With the completed scientific platform serving as the reference point, medical education agencies can then undertake planning for the promotional med ed campaign, often in concert with the pharma client's advertising agency, basing their strategies and tactics on the particular factors of each case. The platform should be used to develop key messages that will be reflected in all medical education communications and presentations, including client sales-force training materials.

In the example above, the scientific platform information can be used to develop slide lecture programs for use in symposia, dinner meetings, grand rounds, sales meetings, sales force training, speaker training meetings, and more. This information may also help develop Web-based programs (such as e-learning programs, Epocrates educational initiatives, podcasts, and more); form content for advisory board guidance from advisory members (related to future trends in disease management or how guidelines may need to evolve); and will assist in organizing symposia (freestanding and congress-related). Furthermore, many pharma companies may choose to share the scientific platform directly with their respective advertising agency to help jump start their thoughts around potential ad concepts for a new product, thus streamlining the learning curve and ensuring that the ads are consistent with the messages included in the scientific platform.

Promotion developed from the scientific platform provides drug companies with the tools that enable their brand teams to properly communicate how the scientific, therapeutic, and disease-state concepts work, and translate the key messages into communication tactics such as PR, publication pieces, and advertising material. The goal is to ensure that before the regulators release the drug, physicians and other healthcare professionals fully understand the value of the product, how to use it, and how it may be different from anything else on the market.

If your product is not supported by a well thought out scientific platform, it's not too late. The concept is not limited to new drugs. The same principles can be used to shift the way physicians and consumers think about an existing drug or disease.

In summary, the scientific platform accomplishes three primary goals:

Forms the basis for early communications

Creates the right first impression about a brand's utility

Highlights the "need" and creates the market opportunity.

The medical education company's role is critical in the development of the scientific platform and the educational promotion flowing from it, because most pharmaceutical firms are not well integrated across these functions.

Agencies capable of skillfully integrating their expertise with the disciplines of marketing strategy and creative style, and leading the development of a scientific platform along with their strategically oriented pharma partners, will generate effective and consistent brand messages that fulfill the pharma industry's need to educate healthcare professionals about their products. The scientific platform provides a solid foundation for producing these results.

Larry Iaquinto is president and COO of Interlink Healthcare Communications. He can be reached at

Steven Palmisano is managing director of IneXel Medical Strategy & Communication. He can be reached at


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