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Best Practices in Globalizing MSL & Field-Based Medical Specialist Programs

ID: POP-263


36 Info Graphics

34 Data Graphics

400+ Metrics

5 Narratives

21 Best Practices

Pages: 88

Published: Pre-2016

Delivery Format: Shipped


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Biopharmaceutical organizations are increasingly adopting global MSL & Field-Based Medical Specialist (FBMS) programs to achieve corporate goals within regional markets. However, Medical Affairs leaders often face difficulties in effective global deployment of MSLs and other Field-Based Medical Specialists.

Best Practices, LLC undertook a benchmarking study to assist Medical Affairs leaders achieve functional excellence in MSL globalization. The study looks at the organizational models, resources, global standards, and internal communication processes that drive success in globalizing MSLs and other field-based medical specialists.

Additionally, the study identifies MSL globalization challenges, lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, and best practices shared by bio-pharma companies engaged in U.S. and non-U.S. MSL programs.

Watch the Report's Overview:

Industries Profiled:
Pharmaceutical; Biopharmaceutical; Health Care; Medical Device; Manufacturing; Biotech; Consumer Products; Diagnostic; Chemical; Education; Science; Clinical Research; Laboratories

Companies Profiled:
Abbvie; Medivation; Alkermes; Santen; Almirall; The Medicines Company; AstraZeneca; BARD; Baxalta; Bayer; Baxter BioScience; Biogen; Boehringer Ingelheim; Eisai; Genentech; Janssen; LEO Pharma; Lundbeck; Medtronic; Merck; Novartis; Novo Nordisk; Pfizer; Pierre Fabre Medicament; ProStrakan; Reliance Institute of Life Sciences; Roche; Sanofi; Sunovion; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd; UCB Pharma

Study Snapshot

This study engaged 38 leaders of Medical Science Liaison (MSL) and Field-Based Medical Specialist (FBMS) functions at 31 different pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. Results include more than one response from seven companies, where survey participants represented separate MSL organizations.

Key Findings

· GLOBAL MSL SERVICE STANDARDIZATION: Only 16% of participants have no approach for standardizing MSL service across all markets, while the rest take at least one approach to developing global policies for MSLs. Among key obstacles to standardization are local resistance, local misunderstanding of the MSL function, decentralization, variations in local regulations, and differences in customs, language, or culture.

· MSL LEADERSHIP: Directors & Senior Directors lead 60% of the participating MSL functions, and 82% of the leaders report to Medical Affairs. Nearly half the leaders report to Directors and about one-third report to VPs. The most valued qualification for MSL leaders is previous MSL leadership experience, which 61% currently have. Direct MSL managers each oversee an average of four MSLs.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary    p. 3 
  • Research Objectives & Methodology   
  • Participating Companies
  • Study Overview   
  • Key Findings
  • Benchmark Metrics
  • 8 Key Steps for Successful MSL Globalization   
Resources for MSL & FBMS (Field-Based Medical Specialist) Programs  p. 12

Global Standards & Policies  p. 22
Organizational Structure & Leadership   p. 30

Operating Models  p. 39 

Internal Communication Practices    p. 52

Best Practices & Case Examples  p. 64 

Challenges & Lessons Learned  p. 72

Participant Demographics     p. 81

List of Charts & Exhibits

· Key Steps for Globalizing MSLs
· Percentage of Funding for the MSL/FBMS Program Budget Received from Different Functions
· MSL/FBMS Budget Location
· MSL/FBMS Budget Allocation
· Average Number of Direct MSL Managers
· Average Number of FTEs Overseen by Each Direct Manager of MSL/Field-Based Medical Specialists
· Average Number of KOLs per MSL/FBMS
· Current and Past Outsourcing of MSL/FBMS Function
· Best Methods for Determining No. of Specialists to be Put into Field
· Medical Specialist Deployment Method Effectiveness
· Global Services Uniformity
· MSL Service Differentiation by Region
· Approach to Developing Global Policies for MSLs/FBMSs
· Obstacles to Implementing Global Standards
· Job Titles of Direct Managers of MSL/FBMS Function at Participating Companies
· Functional Area MSL/FBMS Leader Reports to at Participating Companies
· Reporting Level of MSL Leaders
· Current Operating Model for MSL/FBMS function at Participating Companies
· Assignment of MSLs Across the Organization
· Levels with Primary Responsibility for Key MSL/FBMS Activities
· Most Important Leadership Qualifications
· Qualifications of Current MSL/FBMS Leaders
· Case Examples of Operating Models at Benchmarked Companies
· Strengths & Weaknesses of Centralized, Decentralized and Hybrid Operating Models
· Coordination & Management of MSL/FBMS Teams Across Organizations
· Most Effective Internal Communication Channels for Direct MSL Managers
· Most Effective Internal Communication Channels for MSL Staff
· Top-Ranked Methods & Frequency for Communicating About Field Activities
· Preferred Internal Communication Method For Different MSL Activities
· Preferred Internal Communication Frequency for MSL Activity Reports
· Internal Communication Pitfall Categories
· Best Practices for Driving Global MSL/FBMS Consistency
· Top 3 Categories for Challenges of Working Globally
· Key Lessons Learned in Building Effective Global MSL/FBMS Programs