Author Archives: ACMA

Medical Congress

16 Effective Ways For MSLs To Get The Most Out Of Medical Congresses

1. Don’t simply show up.

Ever hear that saying, “Showing up is 80 percent of life?” Not when it comes to attending a Medical Congress. The best way to waste 1000s of dollars is by going in without a plan. It’s critical to prepare in advance and know what your goals are. Are you expected to capture insights on new company data that is being presented? Meet with KOLs? Or perhaps record questions that come up during your poster session? Understand your organization’s reasons for sending the Medical Affairs team, review the agenda, who is speaking, competitors and MSLs attending, and other competing CME/CE meetings to plan your days most effectively. Consider using a dedicated tool to implement your strategy and save time gathering, collating, analyzing, and creating medical congress reports

2. Watch videos of speakers ahead of time to help decide which sessions to attend.

Many large congresses (like ASH, ASCO, AHA, AAN, DIA, ESMO, etc) can have 5+ simultaneous sessions at a time. Even the best MSL cannot be in 2 places at once and it can be hard to tell which session is worth attending from the title and abstract. Search for videos of the speakers ahead of time and watch their talks. This can help you decide if the session will be worth attending or not. 

3. Check out sessions outside of your expertise.

Attending sessions outside of your therapeutic area helps you to be more strategic and creative. Ideas from other areas can often be applied to your area. It’s a great way to grow and think outside of the box. Big Medical Congresses like ASH, ASCO, AHA, AAN, DIA, ESMO, etc are great opportunities for this. 

4. Schedule meetings with KOLs ahead of time.

Let your KOLs know you will be attending and schedule meetings ahead of time. Use this opportunity to get face time with KOLs and for them to meet with other Medical Affairs colleagues. Congresses are great for meeting KOLs that are hard to get face time with. Download the congress app to review the list of attendees to see who is attending and reach out to them prior to the congress to set up a meeting. Don’t leave your meetings up to chance and hope you will randomly run into each other. Congresses are busy for everyone. Do the prep work to get your schedule packed full with meetings with important KOLs.  

5. Have your materials ready.

Do some of your KOLs prefer hard copies of materials? Have those ready. Put business cards in multiple places (coat pockets, laptop bag, etc). 

6. Let people know you are attending the Congress in your out-of-office email responder.

You might be able to set up a meeting with someone you weren’t planning on meeting. 

7. Have your MSL elevator pitches ready.

You never know who you will run into and you don’t want to stumble when someone asks who you are. Be the well prepared MSL you are and have a 30-second elevator pitch prepared for yourself, your company, and the products you support. Don’t make it too detailed and focus on the outcomes. This is your chance to make a good impression. 

8. Ask your KOLs to introduce you to their colleagues.

Use this opportunity to meet other HCPs in your area. When meeting with your KOLs, ask them to introduce you to their colleagues that are also attending. You might be able to get introductions to KOLs you have been having a hard time getting meetings with. Making a great first impression matters. A recent survey of approximately 1000 KOLs found that 87% of them valued meeting with MSLs and medical affairs professionals that were board certified in Medical Affairs. Consider becoming a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist (BCMAS) to distinguish yourself and expand your knowledge base to help have more effective KOL interactions. 

9. Networking tips for MSLs 

Don’t let your inner introvert cringe take over. Medical Congresses are great opportunities to make new connections and network. Avoid huddling with other MSLs and only talking with them. Here are tips to help you meet more people:

a. Stay at the conference hotel. Do this for both large congresses, like ASH, ASCO, AAN, AHA, DIA, ESMO, but also for the smaller ones. This way you are more likely to run into KOLs, MSLs from other companies, speakers, etc in the elevator, hallways, coffee shop, etc. 
b. Attend the conference networking events. Go to all the happy hours, receptions, and banquets. 
c. Have conversation starters ready. Come up with some open-ended questions to ask people you meet at the congress. Here are some ideas to get you started: “What did you think of that last session/data/poster?” “Why did you decide to attend that session?” “Is this your first time attending this congress?” “What other sessions are you planning on attending?” “Were there any major breakthroughs or takeaways that would change your practice from today’s sessions?”
d. Have a system for collecting contact info. If you’re active on LinkedIn, use the QR code feature to connect with new people right away. 
e. Jot down something you learned from them or one interesting thing about this person. Reference this when you send them a thank you note or connect on LinkedIn. 

10. Meet with vendors.

This is a good way to stay on top of the latest news and they can introduce you to KOLs, HCPs, and other Medical Affairs folks.

11. Take great notes.

After every session or meeting quickly jot down 3 takeaways, what was important, and any action items. Medical Congresses are busy and everything quickly becomes a blur. Taking great notes will help jog your memory and ensure you don’t forget anything essential. 

12. Drink a lot of water and don’t eat too many cookies.

Who is guilty of only drinking coffee and eating 50 pounds of sugar at a congress? You can end up jittery and not feeling well. It’s hard to make a great impression and have meaningful conversations when you don’t feel great. 

13. If you’re active on social media, post about the Medical Congress.

Pharmaceutical social media is a great way to connect with other congress attendees. Share great quotes, when your poster session is or other interesting things that happen at the conference. Don’t forget to use the conference hashtag to reach people outside of your network.  

14. Daily debriefs with your Medical Affairs team are key.

Hold daily debriefs with other MSLs on your team to cover who you met with, the sessions attended, important takeaways, and who came to your medical information booth.  Focus particular attention on why it matters to your company.

15. Send follow-ups to everyone you met.

Send a “great to meet you” note. You never know where they will be in the future, people they can introduce you to or other ways that you can help each other. 

16. Prepare a Medical Congress report on the key takeaways.

Now that you’re back home, the work doesn’t end. All the insights gathered from the Medical Congress need to be collated, analyzed, and shared internally. Present this report to Medical Affairs colleagues that didn’t attend. Invite MSLs that did attend to co-present with you. Focus on the key takeaways, recommendations, and what it means to your organization. This will also serve as a great resource for your Medical Affairs team and organization later on. 

Patrina Pellett, PhD is Director of Enterprise Accounts at Kernel Networks.

Transitioning to Industry

Pharmacists that transition from academia to industry are often said to have moved to “the dark side,” insinuating that they have abandoned patient care or have become too “sales-y”.  Pharmacists in industry do play an important role and should not be perceived as someone who has “sold out” their career.  I recently transitioned from academia to industry and want to provide guidance to anyone considering this move. 

Despite spending my entire career in academia, I was very familiar with the different roles for pharmacists in industry. After careful consideration, I decided to pursue a field medical role as a medical science liaison (MSL) because the job appeared to match my skillset and clinical interests. In this role, I’d still be an educator focused on therapeutics and disease, but substituting KOLs in lieu of pharmacy students.    

Although I felt prepared for the challenge, I was very surprised at how difficult the transition was for me.  Learning the long list of industry acronyms, such as ‘SOP, ‘KOL and ‘SRD’ and new concepts such as ‘business acumen’ and ‘strategic plans’ was daunting. Who knew that healthcare compliance training would make feel so unprepared? 


I wish I had taken advantage of the many resources that help pharmacists’ transition to industry. Organizations such the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) and Drug Information Association (DIA), provide valuable resources and on-demand training that provides foundational knowledge of the industry and the various roles for pharmacists. For example, the ACMA’s Medical Affairs Competency Certificate Program (MACC) is a medical affairs training program offered to students in pharmacy school that provides industry knowledge that can be leveraged into an industry position. For industry professionals, the Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program (BCMAS) is a comprehensive training program that is considered to be the standard in medical affairs.  In addition, seek guidance from industry pharmacists through LinkedIn, pharmacy school alumni, and work colleagues.  The better prepared you are, the easier the transition will be.  

Prem Sundivakkam

A medical device professional discusses the value of BCMAS

     Despite many promising breakthroughs in the health care sector, there remains a growing demand for the lifesaving therapeutics. I often ask myself, “Why does the industry appear to be so challenged? What are the setbacks in transforming the innovation to market? Is this an R&D productivity challenge, difficulty in understanding the market needs, overall risk-averse regulatory environment or the challenges in stakeholder management? It is clear that the ability to understand the market needs, to deliver the medical value across the product life cycle, and to best manage that myriad of strategic and transactional partners position scientific and medical experts to drive the organizations. However, many leaders in science are not ready to take this role.       Organizations need leaders with a profound understanding not only of science, but also to effectively communicate the complex and the highly valuable medical information with an increasing array of stakeholders. They need leaders who can play a far more crucial role in annulling the doubt amongst the customers on the industries’ ability to present unbiased medical information.       Organizations are constantly re-evaluating their training methods and strategies for the development in an employee’s skills and business growth. While the in-house trainings and practical experience cannot be substituted, they seldom provide the medical affairs’ organizations an opportunity to be taken out of the comfort zone to learn the art of engagement along with the functionalities of the various channels.       Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) is the only internationally-recognized organization that had established the standard of excellence in medical affairs. The modules provided by ACMA and the BCMAS examination covers all the skills necessary to increase the understanding of the ecosystem a medical affairs’ professional will be exposed to in an organization. It also helps in determining the capabilities that exist to understand the patient experience, access and influence a broad array of external health care stakeholders, and act as a liaison between the external medical community and the internal research organization.      Obtaining the certification had influenced my career by shifting the focus from thinking defensively about what medical affairs can’t do to acting proactively on the things that medical affairs can do. It also helps me partake in discussions with more confidence, capture and integrate strategic information across the array of both internal and external stakeholders, and certainly had improved the level of my engagement to identify extended opportunities.       Given the significant changes happening in the life science industries, this is an appropriate time to reassess and redefine the goals of medical affairs function. Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist (BCMAS) certification will certainly develop the skills needed to enable medical affairs’ professionals to meet the emerging demands and tackle them effectively. After all, the goal of balancing science and business is not to simply fit decisions into the larger picture, but to help paint that picture.

5 Common Mistakes Seasoned Medical Science Liaisons Make

Think you’re too experienced for more training? Or say to yourself, “I’ve been an MSL for 10 years, what could I possibly learn?” If that’s you… keep reading.  Studies in the MSL space have shown that within about 2 years, MSLs begin to intellectually ‘fatigue’ and typically plateau when it comes to their knowledge level of the disease state and functional areas. They start getting into certain habits that rendering them less effective because although industry market dynamics change, they don’t. Here are 5 common mistakes, seasoned MSLs make:

1. Think they know it all

Ever meet that MSL that’s been in the industry for 10+ years and thinks they have it all figured out. You would think that they’re going to be the most effective, most engaged. Unfortunately, oftentimes they are just the opposite. It isn’t because they don’t have the chops for the role. It’s that they’ve either grown apathetic or simply grow content with their current knowledge levels. If that’s you.. Think about ways to reinvent yourself and stay up to date and fresh with industry standards.

2. Stop Growing in their Profession

Have you been to a training session and the person next to you rolls their eyes as if to say, “what a waste of time.” Oftentimes, seasoned professionals have this idea that they won’t benefit from any additional training or professional development. One of the things the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) hears all the time from seasoned MSL pros is how much they found out they didn’t know when they become Board Certified in Medical Affairs (BCMAS).

3. Get Stuck in their Habits

We are all creatures of habit and get stuck in bad ruts. The key is to not make one big change at once but rather small changes. I’ve talked with some MSLs who tell me that they wait till the end of the week to report all of their KOL interactions because they just don’t’ have the time during the week. The problem with this approach is you end up relying on your memory and may forget important details and insights about the interaction that your company might want to know about.

4. Go back to the Same KOL/KTL ‘Well’

Once when I was heading up an MSL team, I did a little exercise to see who our MSLs were engaging and found something quite remarkable. Most of the lower performing MSLs were meeting with a small number of KOLs with a disproportionally higher frequency versus their counterparts who met with a broader pool of KOLs.  When I dug further, I discovered that the primary reasons for this was (1) comfortability with those particular KOLs and (2) access was easier. The result was that the company wasn’t effectively engaging the right people. With digital technology and innovation in medical affairs, new tools and analytics for KOL profiling make it easier to identify the right KOLs to engage. I personally like H1 Insights which I believe have the most reliable data with an easy to use interface.

5. Assume other People Grasp Your Previous Experience

You walk into a new role after you’ve been with your previous company for 10 years and they still treat you like a ‘newbie.’ It’s a common story we hear at the ACMA. Don’t assume anything. Unfortunately, when you start at a new company, you have to rebuild your reputation and those relationships.  There are a few ways to overcome these common mistakes:
  1. Invest in Yourself 
  2. Prove Your Worth Early On
  3. Reinvent Yourself
  4. Keep an Open Mindset
  5. Look at Future Trends
If you’re a seasoned pharmaceutical, biotech, diagnostics, or devices MSL, enroll in the Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program (BCMAS).  Reinvent Yourself. The Future of Medical Affairs is Here. 

6 Must Have Qualities of a Strong Medical Director in Medical Affairs

What Do You Look for in a Strong Medical Director in Medical Affairs?

Many have compared the medical director role in a pharma/biotech company to a maestro in an orchestra. The medical director is the center of the wheel in many cases guiding, directing and orchestrating several cross functional areas like clinical development, marketing, regulatory affairs and patient advocacy. If you’ve worked with a strong medical director, there are some common characteristics they all have. We asked the experts and came up with 6 that all agreed were MUST HAVE QUALITIES:

1. Knows the Disease

Any medical director needs to not only be an expert in the product’s data but an expert on the disease state itself. This includes the pathophysiology, epidemiology, and the clinical data across several treatment options.

2. Strong Business Acumen

An exceptional medical director doesn’t forget that they work for a business and always keeps on eye on changing market dynamics, key thought leader (KTL/KOL) politics and anything else that can impact the business side of the science. 

3. Excellent Relationship Building Skills

A masterful medical director knows that he/she needs to build skills not only with KTLs/KOLs but with internal stakeholders as well. They need to gain their trust and confidence so that they see them as the company’s true subject matter expert.

4. Broad Understanding of what Medical Affairs Does

A solid medical director understands all areas and functions within medical affairs. They get what MSLs do and can help ensure they are integrated into internal medical affairs activities where it makes sense. They appreciate drug safety, HEOR and med info and have the know how to jump in where needed.

5. Exhibits Confidence with External Stakeholders

As the saying goes, “You only get 1 chance to make a first impression.” Good medical directors aren’t afraid of big name KOLs and they’r e willing to challenge them with confidence on the data or science. They do so with ease and confidence thus building a strong rapport and bringing long-term value. 

6. Superb Communicator

One of my favorite quotes on communication says, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” Many medical affairs/MSL professionals suffer from “data vomit.” Where they have a compelling sense to spew out data in an incoherent manner. But a fluid and sophisticated medical director can make their point by interweaving stories and adding color to the data so that it has clinical meaning and content. They know when enough is enough. Of course there are more than 6 qualities. Can you think of some more? If so, share your thoughts with us! Looking to strengthen your medical director chops?    Become a true pro. Become Board Certified in Medical Affairs (BCMAS).   The #1 Board Certification in Medical Affairs in the world.    Enroll online at www.MedicalAffairsSpecialist.org

Resume Writing and Editing Tips for Pharma Professionals

As a Professional Pharmaceutical Recruiter, I read and evaluate resumes (as well as CVs), every day. While I am not a professional resume writer, I have a very strong understanding of what a good resume or CV looks like and what should be included. More importantly, I keep track of what is most effective and elicits the best response from potential employers. I am happy to share some essential resume writing and editing tips that may be helpful to prepare for your next job search.

Brand Yourself

First, your resume should reflect your brand or specific focus. Be clear about your image and what you want to portray. Make sure that all of the information you include on your resume will work towards a unified and consistent image. Showcase your brand through clear and descriptive content and titles that justify your fit for the role or roles you seek.

Templates and Formatting

Style, formatting and appearance are key to the overall impression of your resume. Start by choosing a professional template that will work well for your background and industry. It is a good idea to ask a friend, colleague or coworker if they are willing to share their resume with you to review. Ultimately, make sure you are comfortable with the template you use to work from and be sure it offers the impression you want. Make sure that your fonts are big enough. Do not go smaller than an 11-point font, and opt for 12-point if possible. Times New Roman, Arial and Garamond are all good font choices. Do not overuse capital letters or underlines. Titles should be bolded, and there should be white space to show clarity, enhance the visual/aesthetic appeal and make content flow. 

Professional Summary

Include a “Professional Summary” at the top of your CV that tells the reader who you are and what you are looking to do. This is basically a more formal and professionally documented elevator pitch. Your professional summary will be the first impression for the reader, so make sure it is precisely written.  Example: A performance-driven Medical Affairs professional with over fifteen years of combined experience in healthcare, clinical research, and medical industry, developing in-depth and productive relationships with key professionals in academic, clinical, and payor organizations to optimize business opportunities. Acknowledged for strong presentation, communication, and organizational skills to successfully direct complex projects among many levels of internal and external customers in multiple therapeutic areas, including Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Nephrology. Currently seeking a field-based Medical Affairs role with a growing company. TIP: Be sure that you write the summary in third person, and do not write in first person – it reads as less professional.

The Header and Contact Information

It is important to have your contact information displayed prominently. Use the header option and make your name bold with a larger font than the rest of the text. Add your credentials after your name so that they are highlighted prominently, such as Jane Doe, PharmD, BCMAS or John Doe, MD, PhD.  Make sure that your contact details are clearly listed. If you prefer not to list an address, leave it off. But you should at least list a base city so that potential employers know where you are commuting from. Or if you are field-based, such as a Medical Science Liaison, an employer will want to know what territory you are a potential fit for.  TIP: Review job descriptions and similar job postings to see which common keywords are being used by prospective employers.

Use “Keywords”

As you edit your resume, think about which keywords a recruiter might use to find someone with your specific background. The digital age of recruiting is upon us, which means that all applicant tracking systems and recruitment websites have “search” functionality and even artificial intelligence capabilities. As a result, corporate recruiters will run search queries based on specific keywords. If your resume does not have the required keywords relating to the job you are applying for, your information might never be found. Keywords can be job titles and descriptive words that relate to your job function.

Resume Length

Many professional resume writers and career coaches will insist that your resume is no longer than 2 pages. In my opinion, years of experience will dictate the appropriate length of a resume. While the one- to two-page resume is most common for entry- to mid-level job seekers, the executive resume will warrant more pages (depending on job function). We recommend including publications, presentations, abstracts, journal articles, editorial tasks and reviews, awards, grant support, etc. All should be added at the end, letting the reader decide how much information needs to be reviewed. As a result, it is very important to make sure your first 2 to 3 pages capture the most relevant highlights of your career and experience.

Highlight Tenure

If you have worked a long time for the same company (8-10 years or more), highlight this tenure clearly to show how long you worked for that employer. It is smart to then list all the different positions and roles separately that you had during this time at that employer. This may result in having several sets of time frames listed for each title. But remember to first list the overall time frame which shows your total years at that company.

Avoid “I” and “Me”

Your resume should not contain the pronouns “I” or “Me.” That is part of our normal sentence structure, but since your resume is a document about your person, using the pronouns ‘I” and “Me” is redundant.

Do Not Include

Do NOT include irrelevant information such as political affiliation, religion, age, hobbies and sexual preference. It is not a good idea to include a color background, colorful fonts or sections, a photo, or special graphics, such as a large monogram, logo or initial. Additionally, it is not necessary to mention comments like “Available to Interview” or “Can Start Immediately.” Although it is very common, the statement “References Available Upon Request” can be left off as well. Employers will ask for references at the proper time regardless of whether they are offered via the resume.

Be Truthful

You should only document what you can genuinely support. Even the slightest information that cannot be supported could potentially ruin your chances for employment. It is acceptable to have several versions of your resume for different employers and/or roles, especially if you are looking for career transition. Just be sure you can support all the claims you make and resist the urge to stretch the truth, since you may be “fact-checked” in an interview setting.

Multiple Versions

It is a smart practice to customize your resume for each employer and/or role you are applying for. When actively applying, it can be a good idea to have multiple versions of your resume prepared so that you can highlight your background and skills for that specific role. However, it is not smart to tailor your resume to “be” someone else. Employers will pick up on what you can truly support and what you are fabricating. Just keep track of which version you use for which opportunity.

Spell Check and Proofread

Be sure your resume is completely free of all errors and typos. Using spell check tools and thoroughly proofreading your document is mandatory. It is a good idea to share your resume with at least 3 trusted colleagues or family members that can proofread on your behalf. This seems like a no-brainer and should go without saying; however, I am often surprised at how many spelling errors and typos we find.

LinkedIn Profile

Once your resume is complete and you are fully comfortable with the final version, be sure to update your LinkedIn Profile so that it is a mirror image of your resume. Keep in mind that most recruiters and employers will cross reference your LinkedIn Profile once they have possession of your resume, so it is critical that both are a match. Your LinkedIn Profile is your digital brand and career image, so it is very important that you are consistent and 100% comfortable with the final version. Take the time to add a professional and recent photo. A casual, recreational or outdated photo is never perceived well; a lack of picture is not appropriate either.  Lastly, consider adding your LinkedIn Profile link to the contact area of your resume.

E-Mail Cover

It is very likely that you will be emailing your resume to many companies or recruiters for consideration. Instead of having a cover letter as an attachment, consider incorporating a strong email intro to act as a brief cover letter and resume highlights. This will mean your e-mail will only have one attachment (your resume) which will ensure the reader will not have to open more than one document. To be safe, you can also include the full resume in the body of your email (under the intro) in case the attachment is blocked by a spam filter.

Bi-Annual Updates

It is a very good practice to revisit your resume and LinkedIn Profile every 6 months, or at least once per year, to make sure you are staying up to date. It becomes very challenging to make the proper and most relevant updates after many years. Revisions and updates should include new responsibilities, achievements, training, promotions, special projects or milestones, including publications, presentations, abstracts, journal articles, editorial tasks and reviews, awards, etc. 

About the Author:

Tom Caravela has 27 years of pharmaceutical industry experience and is the Founder and Managing Partner of The Carolan Group, LLC, based in Northern New Jersey. Founded in 2002, The Carolan Group is a leading pharmaceutical and biotech search firm specializing in Medical Affairs and Medical Science Liaison recruitment. Tom is responsible for leading a team of expert recruiters and account managers in client expansions for various levels of field-based and in house Medical Affairs professionals including Medical Science Liaisons, MSL Leaders, Managed Care/HEOR Liaisons, Medical Directors as well as various other medical and clinical affairs roles. With almost 3 decades of pharmaceutical industry experience, Tom is a frequent speaker and Medical Affairs Consultant for clients, advisory boards and industry meetings. His strategic interests focus on hiring, retention and career development for the field based MSL role.

5 Ways to Build Your Pharma Career

1. Solutions Not Problems

Don’t have enough experience? Feel like your career path is limited? Think about how you’re going to solve the problem versus the problem itself. Don’t dwell on the issue. Take action.

2. Do What it Takes to Be Successful

Not everyone is willing to put in the time & effort to become successful in their professional life. Are you willing to go the extra mile? To demonstrate that you’re a hard worker who is committed to excellence in their profession? If so, you are already at an advantage. And others will notice.

3. Figure Out What Matters to You

Each of us are motivated by different things. For some, it’s money, for others it’s appreciation and recognition and for others it’s work-life balance. Determine what matters to you and go after it.

4. Don’t Get Distracted

In today’s world, it’s easy to get distracted by ‘noise.’ To achieve your goals, you need to stay focused. Think of the best athletes in the world. They are laser focused during the game. They know what their objective is and they stay focused and consistent in their efforts.

5. Become a Subject Matter Expert

In pharma, becoming a subject matter expert in particular therapeutic areas can pay off in dividends. Are you an expert in pharmacoeconomics or clinical trial design? If not, become one! This can really help to distinguish you when applying for new roles or being considered for that next promotion.

An Interview With Antoine Daher, MS

1. Tell us a little about your professional background?

Born in Beirut (Lebanon) on 31st March of 1975, Antoine Daher is a Brazilian businessman who dedicate his life to the Rare Diseases’ cause. He speaks Arabic, French, English and Portuguese and has a Master in Political and Administrative Science with an extension in Political Science. In 2012, he got involved with advocacy, when he discovered that his son has the Hunter Syndrome (MPS II), a metabolic innate error. Founder and president of Casa Hunter, Toni – as he is usually called – has been dedicating his life to help Brazilians with the rare diseases. With a strong presence in the —- Parliament, he fights for public health policies and laws that grants a better life for people with rare diseases. Since January/2019, Antoine Daher is the president of Febrararas, The Brazilian Federation of Rare Diseases Associations. He is also a member of the Rare Diseases Commission at the Federal Council of Medicine in Brazil (since 2015); vice-president of Clinical Research Alliance of Brazil and president of Casa dos Raros (The House of the Rares).

2. Why did you decide to join the ACMA board?

ACMA’s goal is totally related with Casa Hunter’s mission. As a president of NGO focused on Rare Diseases, we are extremely concerned about establishing benchmarks of excellence in training for the life sciences and healthcare industries.

3. What are 3 predictions you have for the pharmaceutical industry in the next 10 years?

  • Gene Therapy (pharmacogenomics)
  • New drugs focused on childhood diseases
  • Research into tackling auto-immune problems

4. What would you tell companies considering to Board Certify their medical affairs organizations?

Medical Affairs involves a group of activities of high value and high competence: technical knowledge, communication abilities, emotional intelligence… In order to certify a good teamwork level, you must submit them to training. Besides that, a certification from a recognized organization, can cut steps and get an important time in a competitive era.

5. What do you enjoy doing (hobbies, etc..) in your spare time?

Cooking and traveling.

Accredited Medical Affairs/MSL Professional Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Trends & Future Outlook

As Medical Affairs continues to grow within the pharmaceutical industry, providing proper training and continued professional development is critical. Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies either:
  1. Develop their own internal training or 
  2. Work with third-party vendors to build training programs for them.
While this can help onboard new hires, there are several limitations to this traditional approach.

Limitations to the traditional pharmaceutical industry Medical Affairs training process

  1. It is a ‘one & done,’ focusing primarily on proper on boarding for new hires.  There is no plan put in place to assess continued professional development.
  2. Vendors are NOT accredited training providers. What that means is that they do not meet any type of standards when it comes to learning design, process, technology or proper assessments.
  3. Non-accredited training does not lead to a qualification or any credits awarded.
  4. Traditional training is not externally recognized outside the company which limits employee motivation and development.
  5. Traditional training is not externally recognized outside the company which limits employee motivation and development.
  6. Traditional training typically requires a minimum level of knowledge is met does little to assess assess progress over time.
  7. Because non-accredited training doesn’t have to meet any type of external measures of quality or assessment, it poses a risk to pharmaceutical companies if they are audited.
  8. Finally, today’s training often lacks consistency across US & Global Medical Affairs organizations creating gaps and putting certain teams at a disadvantage.

Accreditation Matters

The Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) is the only accredited provider of professional development & certification for Medical Affairs & sales professionals working across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and diagnostic industries.  Accreditation indicates that you have met and/or surpassed industry standards for training & certification.  Light Bulb The ACMA is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET/ANSI). The ACMA is also a member organization with the Institute for Credentialing Excellence and, through its partnership with Scientia CME, is a joint provider of Continuing Medical Education (CME) & Continuing Education (CE) for physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. This level of accreditation indicates that the ACMA offers the highest quality of training and certification. The robust quality management system, innovative learning design, optimized pedagogical techniques and proper learner support are key elements to ACMA’s success.

Regulators & Accreditation

Using an accredited provider of training for your pharmaceutical company helps to safeguard and minimize risk for your organization. This becomes particularly important when concerns arise over:
  1. The competence of your team members
  2. Issues related to Ethics
  3. Concerns over quality systems and operations
  4. Issues with Compliance

Industry Trends

The ACMA continues to partner with companies who are raising the bar for their organization by offering accredited training & certification programs. There are several benefits afforded to both the company and employees. By partnering with the ACMA, pharmaceutical companies can ensure that all individuals who successfully meet ACMA standards will receive a certificate of competence, which is accredited and recognized in the US & internationally. Moreover, several studies have shown that certification:
  1. Improves employee motivation and performance
  2. Increases team morale
  3. Ensures that a minimum level of competency is set across the organization.
This helps establish consistency, provides peace of mind and improves the chances for more effective & compliant engagement with key opinion leaders (KOLs). As a matter of fact, the ACMA surveyed over 1000 KOLs.  Over 87% of those KOLs indicated that partnering with pharmaceutical industry professionals with an accredited certification would help them feel an increased sense of trust and credibility. As we reflect on the opioid crisis and other issues that have plagued the pharmaceutical industry in recent years, it is critical that Compliance, Medical and Commercial work together to raise the bar for their organizations. Doing so is not only the right thing to do for their company, but more importantly, we owe it to the patients and healthcare organizations we serve.

An Interview With Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA

1. Tell us a little about your professional background?

I am trained as a family physician and practiced for about 18 months before I realized full time clinical medicine in a tightly controlled managed care setting wasn’t the best long-term fit for me. Started at a late phase clinical trial center as a sub-investigator, and later as PI when the center director retired – and ran 150+ late phase clinical trials across multiple therapeutic areas in about 5 years with a staff of 20+ coordinators, educators, lab and technical personnel. Loved the multi-disciplinary environment. Started a US site for a European CRO doing high complexity metabolic studies for 2 years before transitioning into industry. Started in Clinical Development and followed my first drug to market, starting and building the Medical Affairs organization. We built late, as an organization that had never taken a product to market, and it became very clear how building earlier would have added much more value and momentum. I’ve enjoyed building from micro companies to small entities and have started or built out medical affairs earlier at every company since then to many great successes.

2. Why did you decide to join the ACMA board?

I truly believe in the value of Medical Affairs, and how the perspective of digging deep on the science and understanding the perspectives of multiple stakeholders really elevates the work we do in this industry. Building an organizational culture that embraces Medical Affairs creates value from early development, regulatory engagements, patient-focus, market access strategy, corporate branding, and employee engagement and retention. Supporting ACMA is an important mission, and as the industry has suffered reputational loss, I think a stronger role for medical affairs internally and externally can continue to raise the bar across the industry.

3. What are 3 predictions you have for the pharmaceutical industry in the next 10 years?

1) The definition of value will evolve even more rapidly – beyond clinical definitions, addressing targeted and individual patient needs, providing payer value, and context within the health care system as a whole. 2) Incorporation of technology to increase efficiency and value across discovery, development, regulatory processes, and getting therapies in to the hands of patients. 3) What does it mean to be transformational? We are still in an environment where there are “hot areas” and ignored areas, and there are many unmet medical needs still in need of good science and effective and safe therapies – we need to do better meeting more patients’ needs.

4. What would you tell companies considering to Board Certify their medical affairs organizations?

Investing in Medical Affairs certification is investing in your company as a whole. Often your Medical Affairs experts are the individuals on the front line – they define your reputation for skill, knowledge, and professionalism to your key stakeholders and ultimate customers. They carry your companies brand and the success of your operations in many ways. Arming them with high quality skills and continued professional development means that they can best do their jobs in service of your corporate objectives.

5. What do you enjoy doing (hobbies, etc..) in your spare time?

I am an avid traveler and enjoy exploring new places, cultures, food, and people. Have traveled to more than 100 countries to date, with so much left to see. And I enjoy cooking, live music, pilates and time with friends and family.