SOURCE: Cutting Edge Information

Cutting Edge Information

July 16, 2015 09:30 ET

Increase in Contract Medical Science Liaisons Signals a Paradigm Shift, According to Cutting Edge Information

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwired - July 16, 2015) - Recent times have seen a rise in the number of contract medical science liaisons (MSLs) available to pharmaceutical companies in need of medical field force headcount. According to a new study by pharmaceutical intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information, this rise can be attributed to the up and down nature of field force demand, which ebbs and flows with product launch schedules. It is often easier for companies to employ a contract team -- that can be built quickly -- and torn down just as quickly once demand subsides.

Another factor leading to an increase in contract MSL groups' popularity is the tightly controlled headcounts at pharmaceutical companies. For MSL directors and managers desperately in need of increased headcounts, the effort necessary to obtain headcounts often proves difficult, time consuming and painful. To many pharmaceutical industry leaders, adding contract MSLs makes it appealing to add resources while avoiding the uncomfortable discussion with upper management, according to a benchmarking study by Cutting Edge Information.

The report, "Capture and Communicate the Full Value of Medical Science Liaisons: Refining Global MSL Strategy with Compelling KPIs," found that many companies do not count contract forces in their official headcount. Rather, these individuals appear as a line item on the budget, which helps MSL heads avoid fighting the headcount battle with upper management so keen on keeping staffing levels in check.

"Avoiding headcount discussions is a legitimate concern among many MSL directors today -- not many leaders want to step out on the ledge to seek additional internal resources," says David Richardson, director of research at Cutting Edge Information. "Contracting MSLs give those administrators the added resources without the internal headache."

Despite the appeal of contract MSLs, only a small percentage of companies surveyed for the report currently outsource their MSL positions. In fact, a few companies reported negative returns on their outsourcing experiences -- like vendors under delivering on their promised abilities and high turnover rates among contract MSLs. Still, many companies do report that they are looking into the possibilities of outsourcing some of these key roles over the next few years.

"Capture and Communicate the Full Value of Medical Science Liaisons: Refining Global MSL Strategy with Compelling KPIs," available at, features benchmarks and best practices for MSL executives to define key performance indicators, compare team resources across regions and therapeutic areas, and provide competitive compensation for liaisons at varying experience levels. The report will allow MSL executives to:

  • Track quantitative, KOL-driven metrics to assess MSL value.
  • Implement processes for cross-team communication among MSL groups to share best practices and overcome challenges.
  • Compensate MSLs based on experience level and indication complexity.
  • Track MSL activities to enhance companywide visibility.
  • Expand existing MSL responsibilities to support cross-functional objectives.

For more information about Medical Science Liaison management, contact Rachel Shockley at 919-433-0211.

Contact Information

    Rachel Shockley