Am I meeting with the right thought leaders? Which publication has the perfect readership? Who might be the best expert to work with for my clinical trial or have the best possible chance to get my research published in a particular journal? To answer those (and many other) questions accurately, you need to be able to draw comparisons.
And, as a Medical Affairs professional you will always need your answers to be based around the most relevant scientific dissemination. The best decisions will be based on your ability to balance the intuition and judgement of others with your own set of metrics. You often hear about mechanisms and trends from an adboard, or agencies and consultants, but how do you verify those insights?
Data in itself, no matter how reliable, is virtually meaningless without comparisons
R&D makes their comparisons in controlled clinical trials, testing their molecules against placebo, approved therapeutics, alone and in combination. The critical insights lie in the comparisons. Medical Affairs can do this too, but your challenge is twofold: to compare scientific dissemination data from one source with data from another, and to use data validate your efforts , especially when it conflicts with the opinion of others.
Here’s an example: as an MSL or publication planner, you may be asked to engage with and work with the most influential melanoma experts. But let’s say you are tasked with engaging the top expert in treating melanoma with BRAF inhibitors. How do you know if this person is likely at the forefront of research?
Case study 1: Comparing currency of experts
To answer this question, it is possible to take any expert in the field, combine all of their scientific output – the journals, clinical trials, posters and treatment guidelines – and calculate their currency on the topic. To find the most current out of all experts, the ones with the most interest and possibly groundbreaking research, it is then possible to compare their currency score with that of other experts. (See Figure 1)
Using longitudinal data comparisons, you may also realize that the graph above demonstrates that if you looked at the field of experts in 2014, your analyisis of the most current expert would be different from today’s. In this way, it is important to note that it is dynamic, prone to change based on your imperatives and rapidly evolving fields of research.
Case study 2: Comparing launches
Here’s another example. You can also use such data to compare your launch strategies with those of similar products. Figure 2 shows a launch comparison between two BRAF inhibitors, Vemurafenib and Darbrafenib, looking at the total amount of scientific dissemination (mentions) for each at all journals and congresses (oral presentations and posters*).
You can use comparisons like these to model your own launches, and by digging into the data, see what successful and unsuccessful launches looked like in terms of which congresses data was presented at, which journals were published in and which experts were engaged with.
The result of all this is better decision-making. Data alone will never replace the expertise and knowledge of opinion leaders or your colleagues, but by comparing the two, you gain valuable insights and the validation of your endeavors.
*Medmeme draws from the largest database of medical congress abstracts in the world, monitoring over 14,000 global meetings and collecting, tagging and indexing over 1.4 million abstracts per year