They Unblinded Me With Science

Few disciplines in our industry are as dynamic as medical education. That’s not what everyone imagines, of course. But nowhere is it truer that the digital shift has required a radical re-imagination of how to engage physicians demanding a higher level of scientific discourse.  Drastically reduced dinner meetings and local symposia, almost no “enduring” (read: print) materials. The full-scale move to the Web demands a higher level of digital strategy in all we do.

But that’s not the biggest change: Much like in the past, when there was CME and non-CME med ed, a new channel has arisen and swiftly grown as an innovative generator and outlet for scientific exchange between the manufacturer and the practitioner. The “owners” of this channel are not in marketing at all—they are in the clinical, medical affairs, R&D and other non-promotional functions within our client base. In some companies, even the baseline financing is not derived from a brand’s P&L, but from zero-based corporate budgets, so as to completely remove any “co-mingling” of promotional and non-promotional funds. The issue: “off-label” promotion was the significant trespass that led to unbelievably large fines and ongoing compliance agreements at virtually every major pharmaceutical company.

But the needs didn’t change. Much of the information exchange needed to inform physicians about innovation in understanding the mechanisms of a disease or advances in new therapeutic modalities takes place prior to any product on market, and discussing these issues from a marketing perspective is forbidden. In comes the med affairs group. They are specifically charged with answering questions or providing educational background prior to a brand’s launch or outside a brand’s labeling—as long as it is completely separated from the commercial purpose or the on-market brand.

Our clients have gone to great lengths, in many different ways both philosophically and physically, to prove this agnostic separation.

And so have we. This marketplace evolution is the driver behind our creation of SCI Scientific Communications & Information. It’s WAY more than publications; it services the entire spectrum of the clinical, med affairs and R&D departments—all the way through presenting our clinical trial retention and recruitment expertise (through Fast 4wD). To partner with these clients, we built SCI Scientific Communications & Information to have totally separate tax ID numbers, separate email, separate payroll, separate servers and physical location, and more.  Finally, we are working with our colleagues in London and Oxford to mirror the same structure and strategy as we see this separation continuing to gain momentum, on a global scale.

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