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Expert Opinion

Mastering modern medical affairs


Over the past 10 years, medical affairs has lifted its profile probably more than any other function in the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, medical affairs is considered by most companies to be a major strategic driver for business.

The basis for this change is in the developing landscape of the industry. Some of the key trends impacting how the industry operates include the following:

  • There has been a major shift from small molecules and primary care products to biologics and specialty care products. More sophisticated treatment solutions require a trusted partner to adequately translate complex science to the customers.
  • Access restrictions have made the industry shift from a traditional sales model to a scientific approach and meaningful collaboration.
  • Value demonstration has become essential for the industry. There is a constant need to generate new real-world data and communicate value to various stakeholders.
  • The pharmaceutical industry is engaging beyond-the-pill approaches, such as mobile health and companion diagnostics. There are also other megatrends shaping the industry, such as the emergence of big data and new pricing models. Therefore, companies desperately need people who can master modern technologies.

The key for successful medical affairs operations is establishing long-term peer-to-peer relationships with the key customers and building collaborative projects. The best medical affairs projects may bring significant value not only for the company, but also for physicians, patients, and society.
There is no better way to get therapy area insight, provide customers with a profound understanding of your product, increase the scientific credibility of the company, and have meaningful customer contacts, than a good medical project. Nothing brings you closer to your customers than working together towards a common goal. The medical team is also in a unique position to create opportunities for marketing, sales, and market access teams.

The value of medical affairs is difficult to measure. The outcomes are very diverse and profound, but they cannot be measured by simple metrics, such as number of customer visits. Actually, the companies that have been disappointed by field-based medicals are often the ones who have taken the most traditional approach, with emphasis only on customer visits and presentations at the clinics.
Considering the current scope of work within medical affairs, it is no wonder that the list of demands have increased tremendously for personnel in this function. In addition to scientific expertise, other important capabilities are a business mindset, outstanding communication skills and the right type of service attitude, just to mention a few.
The greatest challenge in building medical operations is obviously finding people possessing such diverse skill sets. For those working in medical affairs, the job may offer exciting opportunities to create projects that aim at advancing medical science and developing treatment practices in collaboration with leading experts in the field.

Tero Ylisaukko-oja

Tero Ylisaukko-oja

Known for his creative thinking and passion for complex projects, MedEngine CEO and Founder Tero Ylisaukko-oja seeks out clients who are willing to innovate and challenge both him and themselves. Outside of MedEngine Tero enjoys everything Italian, be it food, wine, soccer, the Mediterranean sea, or small cars with character. His family includes his wife Niina, two sons, and dachshunds Gunnar and Bruno.