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5 Ways to Build Your Pharma Career

William Soliman, PhD, BCMAS

William Soliman, PhD, BCMAS

President, Chief Executive Officer
Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs

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

Antoine Daher, MS

Antoine Daher, MS

President, Febrararas
President, Casa dos Raros
Vice-president, Clinical Research Alliance of Brazil

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

Donna White, CCEP

Donna White, CCEP

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.

BCMAS 101: The Basics

FORMAT:

  • Self-Paced, Online, 20 modules, Case Studies, Industry Glossary and Downloadable Resources

COST:

  • $1999 USD

Time it Takes to Complete:

  • Average is 2 months

Who Should Enroll?

  • Physicians, Pharmacists, PhD professionals
  • Medical Science Liaisons
  • Medical Affairs Professionals
  • Med Info Professionals
  • Medical Communication Professionals
  • Medical Education Professionals
  • Clinical Development Professionals

Is it Accredited?

  • Yes. BCMAS is the only Accredited Med Affairs/MSL program in the world.

An Interview With Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA

Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA

Barbara Troupin, MD, MBA

Chief Medical Officer at ERX Pharmaceuticals

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.

5 Ways to Successfully Integrate Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) Into “In-House” Medical Affairs

By Dan Hennessy, PhD

One of the challenges for any field employee across industries is feeling connected to the “home” office and the headquarters team responsible for medical affairs strategy and operations. Medical science liaisons (MSLs) face similar challenges in the pharmaceutical industry connecting to the “Mother Ship.”  The number of MSLs have increased by over 300% according to the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA). As more companies shift towards specialty therapeutics, and cellular and gene based medicines, there will continue to be a greater need for MSLs to support education and incorporation into clinical practice. But how do you successfully integrate MSLs into the ‘in-house’ medical affairs team?

Below are 5 great ways to ensure your MSLs (field medical affairs team) are fully integrated and kept in the loop:

  1. Routine Communication

    With today’s technology, using FaceTime, Skype or Zoom with video conferencing capabilities can help MSLs feel connected to the company, its people and the culture within medical affairs. Using features like chat applications also helps with real time communication.  Having routine conference calls with medical directors that align to your MSL team’s therapeutic area strategy is critical.

  2. Internal Projects & Assignments
    Utilizing MSLs to work on in house projects is a great way to integrate them and to also leverage their incredible knowledge and skill-set. The only word of caution here is on balance. Sometimes MSLs can feel too overwhelmed working on achieving their goals in the field while also managing in-house projects. So beware of “mission creep.”
  3. Showcase Highlights & Successes
    Recognition and rewards go a long way. Use tools to highlight the strides your MSL team has made; “catch people in the act” of doing great work and call them out for it! Have they identified new clinical trial sites, helped to support a new investigator initiated study? Let the extended team know! One of the great ways to do this is via a newsletter that goes out via email. People can learn about what their field medical team is doing. It’s a great way to demonstrate value both ways.
  4. Consistency in Training/Certification
    Establish a consistent on-boarding and training program that the entire field medical organization does together. Taken a step further, one of the great ways we have seen Board Certification in Medical Affairs (BCMAS) implemented at some companies is where everyone in the organization gets trained and certified together. They do journal clubs on different topics and modules and build relationships in the process. It’s a great way to make the entire organization feel like ONE team and cultivate a culture of excellence.
  5. Awards & Recognition
    This one is the most fun! Granting awards and recognition of special achievement on a quarterly basis is huge. Attach the award with some monetary value or gift that provides special meaning. It’s a nice way to showcase the MSL team.

-Dan Hennessy, PhD

Vice President Field Medical Affairs

EMD Serono, Inc.