RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - May 6, 2010) -  With the passage of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, shrinking pools of key opinion leaders (KOLs) are likely to continue drying up, says business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information (

In some ways, the new federal law's impact on life sciences companies and on KOL relationships will be positive. But there are less favorable consequences as well.

"For years, companies have had to wrestle with multiple states' regulations for reporting payments to physicians," said Jason Richardson, president of Cutting Edge Information. "The prospect of nearly half the states passing disclosure laws to track physician payments meant that the drug and device industries faced an ongoing logistical headache."

Although some companies find the logistical pain subsiding under the Sunshine Act, operational challenges loom. Companies that have already begun publishing physician payments will have to alter some of their disclosures to provide more transparency. This increased transparency may drive some KOLs away from working with the industry.

Companies that have not begun to publicly disclose physician payments have a lot of catching up to do. The good news for these companies is that drug makers will not need to report any transfers of value until January 1, 2012, so there is time to outline plans.

"As companies prepare for the new disclosure requirements, we advise drug and device companies to develop strategies to provide information about disclosures to their KOLs," said Elio Evangelista, research manager at Cutting Edge Information. "Companies should train MSLs, sales reps and any other personnel who interact with physicians on how to communicate the information that the companies are now required to disclose."

These communication efforts may be the deciding factor for many physicians to continue working with drug and device manufacturers. Drug and device companies have been aware of the shrinking KOL pool for some time. Cutting Edge Information's data show that between 2007 and 2009, the average number of KOL relationships that companies maintained decreased by 26%. Early communication is one tactic companies can take to lessen this decline.

Through its medical affairs research, Cutting Edge Information has studied the shrinking KOL pool extensively. For more information on this topic and related issues, visit the company's Medical Affairs library at

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Stephanie Swanson