To cure cancer!
A wish for many patients and their families.
A goal for many Physicians.
An ambition for many pharmaceutical professionals.
As a medical liaison, working in an oncology department of a pharmaceutical company, I get to contribute daily to the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer.
My core task is to interact with specialists (hematologists in my case) to discuss the latest developments in hematology (blood cancer). I discuss the newest compounds my company has in the pipeline, the design of upcoming clinical trials and the results of our clinical trials that were recently presented or published. The goal of these interactions is to get a clear picture of the best use of our products. Where is the real medical need? Which patients would benefit most of our treatment? What could be the optimal treatment combination?
About 50% of my time is “field-based” – I admit you need a certain character to enjoy this part of the job. But for me, touring around the country to have scientific interactions with key experts is a real joy. Wouldn’t it be more time efficient and ecological to do this via phone, webex, video,…? This could occasionally be an alternative option, but in order to get a valuable in-depth conversation, you need to build up a relationship. In my opinion, this can only be done if you can look people in the eyes and understand not only what they tell you, but also understand their emotions.
What about the remaining 50%?
In order to get the maximum out of the field visits, you will need to come prepared: know the therapeutic domain, get an understanding on the current and future treatment options, understand underlying biological pathways and also understand relations between physicians, hospitals and patients. Indeed, an important part of my job is studying.
The most difficult part follows the interactions: analyze the information, summarize it and translate it into useful feedback for the different stakeholders within the company. This includes providing feedback to the clinical department like comments on the feasibility of a trial design and suggestions to modify or clarify them. An important objective is involving Belgian sites as much as possible in our clinical trials in order to make innovative treatments – at an early stage in their development – available to patients in Belgium. The market access and marketing department are also important internal stakeholders – but not to simply push sales as much as possible. The goal is to apply for reimbursement and promote our medication for the most appropriate patient population. The population where both the medical need and the value of our product high is.
In summary, my medical liaison function contributes to the development of cancer medicine while I enjoy continued education and a life on the road.
If you like to have an idea what drives my colleagues, please have a look at the ‘we won’t rest’ campaign of Efpia or for Belgian colleagues specifically on pharma.be:
Last modified: November 5, 2018