RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - July 8, 2008) - Pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from considering thought leader relationships directly based on prescription rates, according to a new study from Cutting Edge Information. The report, titled "The Changing MSL Role" (, finds that prescription deciles ranked as the least considered statistic in all three size categories of pharmaceutical companies. The impact that a publication would have if published by a thought leader also fails to rank in the top three in any category. This shift is having a significant effect on the job description and qualifications required for the MSL position.

Companies are now strongly considering clinical qualifications of thought leaders in an effort to increase focus on pipelines. While geographic influence and status among peers are still considered top concerns when evaluating a potential thought leader, large companies rank the level of participation in clinical trial programs as the third highest concern, while mid-size and small companies rank it fourth.

According to Cutting Edge Information's research, this shift toward seeking thought leaders based on clinical experience extends to speaker events as well. "Companies are choosing speakers with scientific, rather than monetary, concerns," says Elio Evangelista, lead author of the report. "A physician's clinical interests carry much more weight than his prescribing practices. While some of this is certainly due to regulatory and PR concerns, companies are also shifting the focus to developing clinical trials, and want to provide high-quality presentations to physicians attending their events."

This shift is having wide ranging effects on the industry, including altering the qualifications of the MSLs who are responsible for maintaining relationships with a company's thought leaders. As MSLs shift from a more specialized sales rep to a support function for thought leaders performing clinical trials, education requirements for MSLs are increasing.

Industry benchmarks on thought leader relationships and MSL qualifications, and many more topics, are included in the 203-page report "The Changing MSL Role." Developed from survey and interview data for 30 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, its findings enable companies to improve their thought leader management by maximizing their MSLs' value, scientific knowledge and relationship-building skills.

Download a complimentary report summary here:

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Contact Information: Contact Information: Elio Evangelista 919-433-0214