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  • Episode 30: Content, GPT, MLR, and Medical Affairs: How to Make Medical Operations Future-Ready and Lead with Trust, Scientific Evidence, and Omnichannel?

Content, GPT, MLR, and Medical Affairs: How to Make Medical Operations Future-Ready and Lead with Trust, Scientific Evidence, and Omnichannel?

with Sameer Lal, SVP at Indegene

  • Content repurposing: why and how can it unlock massive amounts of content needed to engage HCPs?
  • Small launches + more launches + lower prices + R&D productivity: how will the future play out, especially with the new IRA (inflation reduction act)?
  • Why will the role of Medical Affairs grow in 2023 and beyond?
  • How can GPT be used to create more content and speed up MLR review?
  • MAPS (Medical Affairs Professional Society): what is its role, and why did it grow to thousands of members in just a few years?

To answer these questions, Bozidar is joined by Sameer Lal, SVP at Indegene.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • [ 01:23 ] - Many pharma companies focus on reducing sales costs. But in every single pharma company, there is an increase in R&D spending, with most of them experiencing double-digit growth. The industry is highly focused on pipeline development, new launches, and exploring new treatment modalities and indications. This indicates that launches are crucial for the industry's future and individual companies within the sector. However, an important factor to consider is the Inflation Reduction Act, which will significantly impact the industry's bottom line, particularly in terms of the costs of goods sold.
  • [ 08:51 ] - Over the past three years, there have been notable changes in medical affairs and the role of pharma. The pandemic has significantly shifted the focus toward medical aspects. The preference has moved from engaging with sales representatives to engaging with medical science liaisons (MSLs). This shift has led to more science-driven conversations and a decreased emphasis on commercial dialogue. Additionally, there is a growing need to disseminate medical evidence through new channels and prioritize scientific discussions. In terms of launch approaches, the traditional method of content-centered slide decks has transformed into an omnichannel strategy that places the customer at the center. The goal is to understand the customer's persona and create an integrated journey across various channels.
  • [ 13:57 ] - In terms of content, you might still have your scientific messaging and core content, but you're going to now repurpose it in different formats. The same content, just packaged differently for different people. However, another important aspect is figuring out how to create content just in time.
  • [ 23:25 ] - In the medical industry, there has been a growing willingness among medical affairs professionals to experiment and adapt, particularly in the realm of education and unbranded content. The role of medical affairs in launching and disseminating content will see a significant increase. The traditional barriers between commercial and medical departments have started to weaken, allowing for a more open exchange of information. Additionally, both sides recognize that they ultimately target the same customers.
  • [ 32:20 ] - Sameer leads a working group within MAPS (Medical Affairs Professional Society), which has successfully grown from zero to thousands of members in the span of five to seven years. Currently, the society boasts a membership of 10,000 individuals. In recent years, Sameer has co-led the Digital Capability group and collaborated with other focus area working groups to elevate the conversation surrounding medical affairs in the realm of digital capabilities. MAPS has effectively taken the lead in driving change within the field of medical affairs across multiple countries. Furthermore, they have excelled at facilitating participation from external industries, enabling members to learn from one another.

If you want to learn more about leading a successful pharma marketing campaign in the US, tune in to this episode of Pharma Launch Secrets, a Podcast by Evermed.

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About the Podcast

Pharma Launch Secrets” is a podcast by Evermed and hosted by CEO Bozidar Jovicevic, where we host direct, actionable conversations with world-leading pharma launch experts and help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and strategies to help you launch your product successfully.

Episode Transcript

Bozidar: Hello and welcome to the new episode of the Pharma Launch Secrets podcast. I'm joined today by Sameer Lal, Senior Vice President at Indegene, a Digital first life science commercialization company helping healthcare organizations prepare for the future. Sameer has over 20 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry and on the services side as well. He focuses on services to Medical Affairs, safety, regulatory and market access organizations. And he also co-leads Digital capability working group at MAPS. MAPS is a Medical Affairs Professional Society, an organization that has been growing quite a lot over the past five years, and it really gathers medical affairs professionals from around the world in one place. So welcome Sameer, that's a lot.

Sameer: Thank you, Bozi. Thanks for having me here.

Bozidar: All right. I'm excited about our talk, our discussion, our conversation today. And I had a guest from Indegene before, so it's really interesting to see how we're a little bit commercial side, Medical Affairs side, and then we can compare whether you guys agree or disagree. All right. Let's start with, you know, we're a big picture. You work on the medical side, enterprise medical side, as you call it. So what are the really big trends within the medical side or Medical Affairs side of Pharma business that affect how launches are done?

Sameer: Absolutely, Bozi. As I was preparing for this podcast, I was just going through some recent earnings call. I don't know if you noticed now the releases which happened for quarter one for a lot of Pharma companies. Interestingly, note everywhere, there was a lot of focus on reduction sales cost, but in every single of the Pharma company, the R&D spend increase, and most of them are increasing by double digits. There's some, for example, AstraZeneca, the increase is by almost 22%. So there's a huge industry focus on pipeline, on building pipeline, looking at launches, looking at new indications and so on, right? So clearly the industry is seeing that launches are going to be very, very vital for the industry's future, as well as for the individual companies itself, right? So very, very interesting trend. And I would like to double click on some of these pieces as well, but I'll pause and let you respond.

Bozidar: Yeah, I read a little bit. I was actually having conversations with several Farm Executives yesterday about it because it was an unusual quarter in terms of results and commentary and all the political changes and pricing changes and then COVID impact of having COVID products, non-COVID products. It was very, very interesting, but I failed to see what happened with R&D. So, it's a great insight.

Sameer: Yeah, and interesting also is if you look at the trendline last 10 years and so on, right? If you look at it, the number of US patients which are covered by blockbuster drugs has fallen down by 80%, whereas the revenue has increased by 25%. That means the industry shift has happened towards more and more rare diseases, often indications, things like that, right? And even if you look at the kind of products which are coming on, oncology is a pre-pormitant share. I think almost one third of all clinical assets are in oncology, which is phenomenal, right? But if you take the layer of the onion a bit more, what I'm also seeing is newer modalities of treatment are getting launched, or at least are in the Python and Aging research, which is different from what has been in the traditional past, which means that the kind of skill sets that we need to have with us for launches is gonna be quite different from what we have been used in the past, right? It also means. the customer segments that we will have to address are going to be a little different, which means the way we approach launches are going to be a little different as well. All of these are, I think, very good harbingers of change as far as the industry is concerned. But one key piece, the elephant in the room, which I believe has been the key pivot for all of the changes the industry is seeing is the Inflation Reduction Act, R&D, as it is found to be conned by most people. We believe that it's going to have a significant impact on the industry's bottom line, at least in terms of the cost of goods sold that they are allowed to show and so on. But as a result, the industry will have to do far more on the R&D productivity side. That means the kind of assets that come out of the R&D pipeline as well as how does each launch perform is going to be so much more important. Because even as you're cutting costs, you want to make sure you can get the most out of your launches as well. And the final piece on that impact of R&D Bzzi is launches of multiple indications. In the past, these indications would be spaced out. But if you want to make the most out of the R&D impact, you want to make sure the indications get launched closer and faster so that you can get the most value out of your asset as well. But bottom line is the most interesting time for the industry that it has ever been.

Bozidar: Yeah, and just to clarify for the listeners, so Inflation Reduction Act is a US focused initiative, a federal initiative, and it aims to take control or reduce inflation. And one of the ways to do that is by reducing drug prescription prices. And I'm listening to you and I'm thinking, all right, so one big trend means more outputs with less inputs, meaning do more with less, meaning increase your productivity, like have more output to the pipeline, basically. And you said that increasing R&D correlates with that. And at the same time, I wouldn't call it the death of a blockbuster, but reduction of blockbuster drugs combined with same or growing number of Pharma launches, depending on year to year. So it's almost like, okay, more launches with smaller diseases, which is great for patients, more launches without not being like 10 billion dollar plus new homeiros. And then industry press to now produce more of that, with oncology, of course, being the main area. So it sounds like it's going to be innovation under constraints kind of situation, which is where most innovation happens. So we'll see. I don't know if I'm reading it correctly.

Sameer: No, I thought you were bang on, right? And both of you will agree that the Pharma industry has always been known for innovation, isn't it? If you think about it, whatever happened during the pandemic, we were able to get a vaccine out in six months time has been phenomenal. That can be as much a testament of innovation as anything else. So I feel that I see this as a huge opportunity for the industry to actually stand up and be counted. Like last few years, perhaps the industry got a little bit of a bad press, but the pandemic perhaps turned things around. And maybe this is the time when we are able to actually show the huge amount of impact the industry can make on lives of patients in general, right? But on humanity itself.

Bozidar: Yeah, 100%. I mean, a lot of things will happen. I assume that there'll be faster way to also bring drugs to market to at least shave off, even if you shave off six months, it's huge. But if you shave off two years by using technology, but being able to identify molecular targets faster or being able to recruit faster or that you can shave off anywhere you can, I assume that those will have to be done even better in order to meet the financial targets. So it's great to understand this big picture and this point of time right now is May, the May 2023 and the impact on the overall situation with globally tight situation, inflation and all the stress that's going on in the US Congress right now with the war and all this segregation. And then the impact of all that on the industry being one of the biggest industries in the world being one point two trillion dollars. Right. But it's interesting. Healthcare is 20% of all the costs, like one dollar out of five dollars goes to healthcare. But that doesn't mean goes to Pharma and prescription drugs. Actually most of it doesn't go to prescription drugs. But prescription drugs are the first one to be cut because it's very hard to tell hospitals a lower your spend. It's interesting. Right. So now if we zoom in a little bit within Pharma and Medical Affairs. So Medical Affairs function now operates within this new environment. More launches, smaller peak revenue forecasts, do more with less. What's now different for Medical Affairs over the past three years and the role of Pharma launches?

Sameer: I think what's different for Medical Affairs has been the shift towards the pendulum has really swung towards things medical, especially in the last few years, right? Because of the pandemic, we have seen a pronounced shift from the ACB preference to have a preference to engage with an MSL rather than a sales rep, and then also lay to a more science-led conversation. I was just speaking to a customer before this and saying this pronounced shift also, which is happening towards better evidence generation. Remember I was telling you about rare orphan diseases and so on. So as the therapies are becoming more complex, the need for the kind of evidence that you need and therefore the evidence dissemination task will be of much higher order, right? Therefore the role for Medical Affairs team to come front and center in that whole scientific dialogue couldn't be even better than it's been ever before.

Bozidar: And then in terms of medical dissemination of evidence, there's always been there. Now there is a need for having less commercial dialogue, more scientific dialogue, and doing it through also new channels. How can Medical Affairs, when you work with someone launching, right? So when do Medical Affairs start to have more prominent role? Is it two years before it launched, three years, one year? Is it like the first work is like scientific messaging or think you're faced for trials? Where does Medical Affairs nowadays step in? And then the big word this year is omni-channel, personalization, all that. How does that play a role for someone preparing to launch, thinking, oh, how do I disseminate data, but in this new environment and omni-channel and all that?

Sameer: Thank you. Very good question. Two parts to this. First is that we're seeing the role of Medical Affairs come actually much sooner than it has been in the past. Definitely a few years before the launch. But more importantly, the traditional way the Pharma used to approach launches was looking at content at the center and say, I've created a slide deck, I'm just using an example and say, who should I send it to? Or I have created a video, who should I send it to? Whereas the omnichannel way is completely opposite. You put the customer at the center and say, what kind of persona does the customer have? This is Bozi. He's more Digital native, so he will likely prefer a more video format. Hey, this is Bozidar. He suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. Nothing beyond one page will ever capture his attention. Can you do an infographic for that person? At the end, it's the same customer, even though we're meeting them through various channels. Can you combine all of that insight and data together, so the customer feels there's an integrated journey that we take? All of that is a centerpiece of what is called a omnichannel. You already create customer at the center and you provide them information needs in the channel that they want, in the format that they want, at the time that they want. The huge requirement of that is using infrastructure, which may perhaps already be in existence in the Pharma company, but more importantly, using the data on the customer and pull it all together. Some of our other industries actually do this very well, but Pharma has been behind and they're starting to do a good job to play catch-up on the omnichannel side, Bozi.

Bozidar: As I'm hearing you say that, you're almost like, okay, the word disseminate, by the way, in itself, I had this conversation with my former boss, who's a chief medical officer, Nawar Sassanoff, who's saying the word disseminate actually implies one-way communication because you're disseminating something. I know it's a commonly used term, it's likely not going to change, but it assumes that push one way. Whereas now we're talking this push versus what you're saying, like segmented pull, where you lead with content at the right time, right channel, as you said. Now, that to me means that there will be much more content coming from Medical Affairs because if you're going to share something right time, right channel, right person, segment, it means that you have that ready, which means it's produced a lot of content. Am I reading this correctly?

Sameer: Yes and no. First, yes, there might be more type of content, but it'll be more variety of content than, because remember I told you, you use the same content time but repurpose it into various formats based on the customer's persona. That's definitely going to happen. At the end of the day, this is the age of hyper-personalization as well. How do you deliver something which is of need to that individual, rather than, hey, I've got something and I'm going to impose it on you. Exactly the point about dissemination being a one-way street, whereas now it's more a two-way dialogue. The omnichannel, we are the traditional wave on Medical Affairs has been always ACP centric, but we have seen that two more stakeholders start to emerge. One is the market access group, and the second is even the Patient Advocacy group. The role where Medical Affairs can help, engage with two other stakeholders has also increased, because with the payer groups, there's a need for much more complex scientific dialogue. Similarly, in case of orphan diseases, Patient Advocacy groups play a very important role. Both of those are starting to emerge as key stakeholders for Medical Affairs teams as well.

Bozidar: I'm definitely going to come back to that because we haven't talked actually none of the episodes about, for example, Patient Advocacy, a little bit of market tax. So just want to finish this thought on the content. So you're saying, well, I'll still going to have my scientific messaging. I'm still going to have my core content, but I'm going to now repurpose it in different formats. So I'm going to have it as a PDF, as a full, maybe full publication, but I also going to have a summary and I'm also going to have an infographic and I'm also going to have three short form videos, same content, just, you know, differently packaged for different persons. And I'm also going to have maybe something audio so that when they're driving or being in the gym, I can fit to that context. So to get to that variety, core content is core content, the scientific pillars communication, but it sounds like repurposing content is really one of the ways to be able to deal with this complexity that is out there right now.

Sameer: I couldn't set it up much better than that Bozi, right? But one other piece that is the holy grail is how can we create content just in time? The way you articulate it is that, hey, I'm creating content in all of these formats. I'm going to be ready. I'm waiting for the customer and then disseminate it. The holy grail is can I create this content real time? So hey, Bozi reaches on my website and ask for medical information on a specific product and voila, at the back, can I have pieces of content as modular content, pull it all together and then respond back to Bozi. Now, are we there yet? Absolutely not. Are there complexity? Absolutely yes. MLR review is an example of that, right? How do you get modular pieces of content and have them reviewed and approved in absence of context? So we are still dealing with those challenges. But the point here is the customer, if you divorce them from being a physician is also a human being who is getting the same kind of service in all of the other industries and they're starting to ask, why can't Pharma give it to me as well? So it's not that Pharma is the only regulated industry. A lot of the other folks are able to do it. So we're starting to push the envelope on the content side for sure.

Bozidar: So a couple of thoughts on that. 100% agree. I remember I was on a stage last year, one of the conferences and someone said, of course, the very common thing, we are a regulated industry. And I said similar thing. I'm like, guys, there are, I don't know, maybe 200 people in the room. I'm like, do you really think that we're the only regulated industry? Do you really think that Charles Schwab that sends me every month a printed newsletter on what should I invest in or sends me a bunch of emails? So do you really think that the finance industry and Charles Schwab doesn't have a team that reviews every word and they are still able to do an amazing job with their apps, amazing job with their communication? No, that is often an excuse. I'll be very provocative. And yes, we have to set ourselves up for success and have an editorial. MLR is basically editorial kind of review committee or group. So there are ways to do it. And I think I'll ask you definitely about ChatGPT. But I do think like some of the great uses of Chat GPT, like in legal and same way, the medical legal regulatory, where, you know, if you feed it with do's and don'ts, then you don't really need to have marketeer medical first person need to know every little single thing. But those rules are already embedded. And especially for video, I was thinking because nowadays, software is when you record a video, they immediately create a transcription. So when you want to edit a video, you can actually edit it like text. So you can literally delete pieces of text and then it changes in the video. So I'm like, well, this is actually perfect for MLR review. Because first of all, it can say, oh, this is a red flag text, let's delete it, click delete. It's just that easy. So I think they're going to be great, great, great uses of that, with ChatGPT. But the other thing is... Repurposing. We often think, and we had ever met also, if you repurpose, what type of content you should start with. Ideally, something that is almost like an octopus in a way. You can create eight pieces of content out of it. Recently, we find ourselves talking to Pharma folks and say, oh, I don't have much on-demand content. And we say, well, I had a poll yesterday on my LinkedIn. I said, how many webinars have you done in the last 18 months? To my surprise, most people said four plus. So I'm like, okay, if you have four plus webinars, that means you have four hours of MLR or PRC approved content that you can repurpose. That one webinar can actually be repurposed meaningfully, speed up the audio, add a better thumbnail, cut in pieces, the multiple things. And like nine to 12 short content pieces. There you go. It also can turn into audio. Can also be turned into demographic. And so just one webinar that every company has can actually lead to a lot of what you just say. Anyway, it's just a thought. I don't know if you guys see the same kind of opportunities. 

Sameer: No, exactly. Can I just piggyback on the video example? You mentioned about transcript and so on, right? So one of our group agencies called HealthUp actually visualed a very cool thing using generative AI where what you can do is you can record a KOL, just initial pieces. And what you can do is you create the content that the KOL has to speak, take it to MLR review, and then put in generative AI. It creates the entire video using that short snippet you've done. Now, what it does in the past is you would do the entire video, then it takes to the MLR folks, and then they may have a problem with something they have said. Then you go back and reshoot and so on, right? You have the endless loop. Here you completely office getting it. You're saying, okay, let me do a short snippet, just something very venal. Get the whole script done, get it all approved, then create the video, and voila. You don't have to go through the whole MLR process. The whole piece gets short-circuited, and you get a video literally out in a few minutes. And the results are fantastic out there, Bozi. So it's just phenomenal what generative AI can do.

Bozidar: Yeah, I was thinking about this use case a week ago in terms of as a way of resolving what I call content choke. A farmer oftentimes finds themselves, it's a strong word, but like content choke, like how I know I need more content. I know that doctors are like, they're consumers, they're used to content first, sales rep second, right? Sometimes no sales rep. So I know I need to produce more content, but how do I produce? And so one of the things is video or talking head plus some sort of visual doesn't need to be slight with some sort of visual, let's say, let's say it's like it's hard to produce. But the use case that you're sharing where you start with a script first and then you have a trained avatar of a KOL, Dr. John Smith there, I feel like if all that is done and then at the bottom. said Dr. John Smith this is their avatar we don't want to trick anyone right this is their avatar but he has personally reviewed and approved this video Then it's fine. Because then you as a doctor, you don't care whether it's Dr. John Smith, who that morning woke up and shaded the music like a male. As example, doesn't matter. You don't care because that has been reviewed and approved. They reminded me of a music industry because I saw more and more on Twitter that musician X says, Hey, if you use my voice and make a new music using AI, as long as you pay me royalty, because you're using my voice, my persona, I'm fine with that. I think we're going to see more and more of that and working if people are okay with that. So very interesting use case.

Sameer: Exactly. And I just want to clarify your use of the word avatar. They're not avatar in the real sense. They're actually the actual video of the person, except from a one 30 second one, we made it into a five minute one using generative AI and you fed the word in and it's the actual physician and yes, they will approve it as well. But you wouldn't feel the difference that, Hey, this was done using generative AI because we took a 30 second video snippet and expanded it.

Bozidar: That's crazy. And I'm thinking like daily about this problem, like creating more content. And I think that that will create a lot possibility for a lot more content done in a way that it's MLR, reviewed and approved quick. So massive, massive, massive use case that I'm excited about. One other thing I wanted to ask you, and it's maybe it's a little bit tricky question, provocative, but sometimes I talk to Medical Affairs groups and they say, oh, we cannot do anything product. Like yes, we can have content. So that means that if I have the content, I'm actually going to put it somewhere, a website or app or something, and then if doctors find it on their own, then great. But then some say, well, if I'm a smaller biotech or I have a more less risk averse group internally to approve all this, actually we can do some of those things proactively. So that's where I get sometimes stuck in thinking, I'm like, okay, we do all this repurposing, we prepare all this content, but if we cannot share it proactively as a medical group, how are we going to deal with this? So anyway, I wanted to hear your thoughts because I don't have an answer to this.

Sameer: Yeah, and I'm not sure I have a perfect answer either, but I feel that as the industry and as a function, Medical Affairs has started to be more willing to experiment and adapt, Bozi, right? So especially if it's going to be on the education front, especially as unbranded content, I think they're more willing to see if there's possibilities to do more proactively, especially if it's more rare disease, often diseases, where you have to do far more in order to disseminate the word around. I think I'm seeing more willingness to experiment. Now, have we reached that final point? Not, sir, I don't think so, but I think there's definitely far more willingness to experiment.

Bozidar: And then last question before I ask you a little bit Patient Advocacy and market access. Do you see the role of Medical Affairs in terms of launching? And we talk about omnichannel content, dissemination, increasing or decreasing or staying the same.

Sameer: In the roles across the launches, I feel the role will increase if nothing else. I feel the role will increase significantly. They're having a very strong seat on the table already Bozi, but I feel that the traditional firewalls that we saw between commercial and medical have started to crumble a bit. It's more like a sea free more exchange of information. And secondly, both sides are realizing they're reaching to the same customer at the end of the day and they're creating sometimes two versions of the same content using the same sources of growth. And is it the most efficient way to do it? Does it make sense to join hands? I know some companies have actually perhaps dissolved the traditional roles of MSLs and sales and combined them into a single customer stakeholder. I know one company which has done that already are up there, the harbinger of change to come. But Bozi, I'm seeing the role only is going to be increasing for Medical Affairs and launches.

Bozidar: Especially since the trend, you said, you know, more doctors wanting more scientific and evidence based conversation. So it does make sense. And your customers, I know, you know, big commercialization company, you also have an Agency, set of a whole set of services, you guys work globally. Companies that are doing better than others in terms of launches and their Medical Affairs teams. Are there any, you know, three, four things that you see that they're doing better earlier? They do more of less of things like that.

Sameer: Yeah, so a couple of companies are definitely ahead of the curve than others. Bozi, those are the ones, it all depends on the leadership as well. I was just speaking to one of the customers before this and they're saying about, it's maddening for us to believe that we have the same set of team members and we expect different results every time. That's not going to happen, right? You have to be open to get a new set of skill set, new type of folks in your team members. Perhaps some of them may not even have Medical Affairs experience, but perhaps they come from a Digital Agency, they get a skill set which is completely out of the ordinary and you marry it with Medical Affairs expertise you already have in the team and voila, you might actually get phenomenal results. And we're seeing companies are starting open to that idea. We've already seen that trend happen in Pharma where chief Digital offices are not necessarily from Pharma, right? Some of them have come from outside industry. Why has that happened? Because Pharma realizes that if you have to truly deliver to the expectation of customers, you will have to go and push the boundaries, right? And perhaps that means people coming from outside the industry. So we are seeing that trend start to happen. Now has that happened across all companies? No, but the others have moved further ahead than others.

Bozidar: Thank you for that. And then Patient Advocacy. You mentioned it. What is the role in general? I think Pharma marketeers, Medical Affairs, is not like if you ask someone who has experienced launches, it's not like the people mostly don't have deep experience working with Patient Advocacy groups, right? Unless you work in the patient part of the organization. So how should Pharma, someone preparing the launch, but not being an expert in Patient Advocacy, brand director or medical director head, how should they even think about Patient Advocacy groups and their role?

Sameer: See, at the end of the day, why does the Pharma industry exist? Why is the launch pipeline happening in the first place? We are doing it for the better health of the patients, right? At the end of the day, the patient is at the center of all our efforts. And it all starts with finding what's important for the patients. What are the kind of patient insights that we can go and take back? And as a result, influence the customers that influence us, whether it's the HCPs or Payers and so on. So this is where I believe Patient Advocacy groups play a very human service, trying to get the voices of patients heard in a larger forum. And therefore, it's very important for Pharma companies as well as medical affairs organizations to make sure that patients are front and center for all our efforts, right? And they drive all our efforts as well. And I think that's where the partnership with the advocacy groups become very important as well.

Bozidar: And is it done through sharing the studies, the plan, is it done by consulting them on the design of the studies? Is it done through some joint work on education, or it's all of the above? It really depends what disease is and how was the role of Bax Patient Advocacy?

Sameer: I think it's all of the above for sure, Bozi, right? Maybe it starts right at the start, even as you're getting through the phase two, three trials and starting to get the advocacy groups involved and saying, hey, what's truly important? What are we trying to do to serve the needs of the patients? What can we do to make changes, right? Make sure there's an impact. And all of that feeds into your overall market access strategy, but also into your medical strategy and ultimately into your launch strategy, Bozi, right? So I think it's all of the above for sure.

Bozidar: Yeah, I've seen a lot of this last year when there was this Alzheimer launch and all this drama in the news. There was a lot of these Patient Advocacy groups. Every time there is something about Patient Advocacy group, there are people who are challenging, oh, are they legit? Do they work too closely with industry or not? And then at the same time, watching all this from the outside, I started to think like, oh, actually Patient Advocacy groups are becoming stronger and stronger and bigger say, and it does make sense in the world is becoming more transparent, where information is accessible as GPT asks. Like when scientific evidence is just took one prompt away, it does make sense that actually the trust will be even higher value. And so then you see who are the guardians of trust and guardians of trust, one of them Patient Advocacy groups. And another one, example, medical society. We work also a lot with medical society. So you saw our news with ACC and it's really guardians of that integrity of scientific information that helps keeps everyone in check.

Sameer: Exactly, like you mentioned, right? Let's accept it. There's a deficit of trust right now, right across. And how do you break that? It's more openness rather than closeness. So then you embrace them. So each of us have a role to play. Each of us are coming with the heart in the right place. And then as we embrace that piece, then suddenly we find this common ground. There's actually more things common between us than we otherwise like to believe. Right. And that's where if we all believe we can open our hearts and minds to that opportunity, there's enough seat on the table for all of these different stakeholders to play a role for the ultimate betterment of the patient.

Bozidar: And then for the high level, you mentioned market access groups. So market access in many countries in the US has been bigger and bigger and bigger topic. One example, I just mentioned Alzheimer's, right? You had a drug approved by FDA. You have now new drugs from the same drug class approved with better data. But then, okay, we'll sell them, pay for it at all. So what's the role of Medical Affairs in that? Because in many companies, those are separate functions, Medical Affairs and market access.

Sameer: And that's true. But we are seeing that both of these groups are starting to work very closely together because market access as they get in front of peers, they need to provide more and more clinical evidence, more and more scientific information is needed, not just in terms of budget impact models and so on. Right. So then you need to marry what's the science behind the product along with economics as well. Right. And we're finding these account teams are working very closely with their Medical Affairs colleagues. So yes, they are separate functions. Market access is using more on the commercial side, but they're collaborating very, very closely.

Bozidar: And one thing I'm thinking from our discussion initially about content, push versus pull, variety repurposing, and then omnichannel, and then Patient Advocacy, market access. So I feel like the common denominator of all this is, again, what you said at the beginning. Science, evidence, trust, and then meeting, being focused on customer needs in a way that they're busy. So try to fit with any education in their busy lives through right format, right channel, right length, right time, and lead with science and trust, whether it's offline or online channel. I feel like as a principle, something that is a common denominator for all of this, which function is. So I see you nodding. So I would assume that you agree with it.

Sameer: Well, that's a phenomenal summary of the conversation, because I couldn't agree more. At the end of the day, trust is the cornerstone of the business that we operate, but it's built on the foundation of scientific evidence, and balanced with great data. In the end, it has to be relevant to the end customer, and that's where the whole piece of personalization comes in. And then the final piece is, like we mentioned, the industry has always been known for innovation. So how do you actually make sure that you continue to evolve so that you stay relevant to all your target audience?

Bozidar: Great. Love this conversation and it's going to be really interesting how a lot of teams will adapt. I know you're also leading a working group with MAPS, so I wanted to ask you to comment Medical Affairs, Professional Society. I've seen them grow in, I don't know, five to seven years from zero to thousands of members. Last time was 6,000, probably now it's 10,000. And what are kind of on a high level, what kind of conversations do you see there happening, maybe in the working group or in general, related to what we just talked about today?

Sameer: No, and like you mentioned, this is phenomenal, how MAPS has grown over the last few years.

Bozidar: Amazing.

Sameer: Truly member-led, right, with a great vision, purpose. I've been fortunate to be involved with the Maps organization last few years. I co-lead the Digital capability group and along with some of the other focus area working group, the attempt had been that how do you help elevate the entire conversation in Medical Affairs across each of these capabilities. On the Digital side, for example, tomorrow we are having a webinar, which is around ChatGPT, and therefore, what kind of experiments that we are seeing in Medical Affairs. So what MAPS has been able to do is truly lead the change on Medical Affairs across various frontiers. And what they've also been able to do phenomenally well is also get outside industry participation so that members learn from others as well. So it's been really great.

Bozidar: Yeah, they've been doing a great job. When I was there, once or twice annual events, they have one in Europe, one in the US. It's almost like that community needed it for many years. And now there is this home for Medical Affairs professionals because I work both in Medical Affairs, I work in the commercial, I work in Digital. So there was a need for that. So at the very end, I'd like to ask very rapid fire questions so that the audience gets to know you better. First of all, what do you think will be the biggest buzzword of the industry in 2023?

Sameer: Yeah, I'll tell you what has been in the past. It had been Digital strategy and transformation. And you can mix the three in different forms. And you will create what I see these three. I continue to be the three.

Bozidar: You can never go wrong with those.

Sameer: You can never go wrong.

Bozidar: What is the book that made an impact on you over the past year or two?

Sameer: I read a very excellent book very recently. It's called CEO Excellence. It's been written by some senior partners at McKinsey, and I believe it's been a phenomenal read and some great insights for anybody who's aspiring for a leadership role. It doesn't need to be, everybody doesn't need to be a CEO, but I felt they have a great framework for anybody aspiring for leadership.

Bozidar: I heard of it, I haven't read it, but I heard it. McKinsey always makes good observations, of course, and insights. I mean, they have a platform, McKinsey Insights, right? And then what types of music do you listen to when you feel stressed out or you need some inspiration?

Sameer: I'm a huge country music fan actually. Oh. And more of the older variety, not necessarily the recent one, but that's really Glen Campbell's of the world, more in regard to I really love, especially in long...

Bozidar: I didn't see that coming. All right, good. Good to know.

Sameer: That's a two-man personality, isn't it? Yeah.

Bozidar: And then who in the world of Pharma would you like to take out for lunch? If you had the magic button.

Sameer: I really admire what Lidia Fonseca has been doing at Pfizer. She's a chief Digital officer, came from outside a couple of years back. Really transformed the Digital organization. I have the opportunity to meet quite a few of her leadership team. Evan has a chance to meet with Lydia herself directly. So I'd love to take that opportunity.

Bozidar: Lydia, if you're listening to this, it's time for lunch. And what's one sentence advice you would give to someone just starting in the world of Pharma and life sciences?

Sameer: I think, like I said before, this is a very exciting time where the industry is going through. Stay humble, stay hungry, and always be willing to learn, right? With this phenomenal opportunity to learn and grow. And then nothing like these times in Pharma industry.

Bozidar: Yeah, crazy times. It's so good to be live in this time. And then, where can people find you online?

Sameer: You can find me on LinkedIn. That's the best place where you can send me a note, and I'm happy to connect.

Bozidar: All right. Thank you, Sameer. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Sameer: Thank you, Bozi. Thank you. 

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