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Complete Guide on Pharmaceutical Medical Affairs

what is medical affairs in pharmaceutical industry

Medical affairs in Pharma are often seen as an essential department within a healthcare company that prioritizes communication among life science organizations, medical professionals, healthcare providers, and patients. Its primary function is communicating scientific and clinical information to the medical community through various channels. 

These medical affairs teams derive their value from high-profile medical expertise and provide efficient evidence of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. Team experts also impart details related to educational opportunities to the learners and improve their qualifications for eligibility to enter med affairs teams. 

Moreover, the educators of medical affairs instruct healthcare professionals through their scientific knowledge and clinical experience.

What Are Pharmaceutical Medical Affairs?

A medical affair is a pharmaceutical or medical company department that communicates the correct information about the drug or medical device to doctors, other medical practitioners and healthcare providers.

For instance, medical affairs instruct the applications of a drug to potential healthcare companies after going through clinical cases. Medical affairs definition uses clinical and scientific information to communicate the efficiency of a drug.

The pharmaceutical medical affairs department officials include professionals with masters or doctorate degrees in pharmaceuticals. They instruct the applications of a drug to potential healthcare subscribers as soon as it is circulated in the market. They describe its use through a scientific and clinical approach by means of medical science liaisons. That is why the personnel working in medical affairs departments are known to be experts and leaders in the medical science field.

They provide information about the following:

  • Off-label usage

  • Publications

  • Safety information

  • Independent medical education

What Does a Medical Affairs Professional Do?

Under its internal affairs, the pharmaceutical ones bring together the research and commercial wings of the pharma businesses. Medical affairs teams analyze and translate important details on therapeutics and drugs into an easy language for better understanding. Any healthcare experts and sales representatives can then grasp these details without a scientific background. 

There are also additional responsibilities of these teams, which include:

  • Conducting non-registered clinical trials after the FDA approval of a drug. 

  • They also execute drug outcome studies and support healthcare brands. 

medical affairs department

What Are Careers in Medical Affairs?

There are many different medical affairs roles that require specific skills and qualifications. Here are some pharmaceutical affairs professionals that are currently in demand: 

Medical science liaison 

Medical science liaison, or MSL, is a specialist with wide-ranging roles and responsibilities. Their main task is to furnish medical or pharmaceutical companies with knowledge on the services, devices, or products of their employer. Medical science liaisons often attend events related to their field, consult with healthcare professionals, make sure that products and services are utilized in a correct way, and build relationships with stakeholders. In other words, medical science liaisons represent their company and provide knowledge on what their employer offers. 

Scientific advisor  

The job of a scientific advisor is to consult companies and professionals on treatment tools, drugs, and other topics. Often scientific advisors work closely with teams that are responsible for research and development and build strong relationships with the medical community. 

Medical affairs manager 

The responsibilities of a medical affairs manager include working with stakeholders, sharing their scientific knowledge, developing a medical affairs strategy, supervising different projects, and designing campaigns based on the company’s goals and vision. 

How to get into medical affairs? Every medical affairs company requires the candidates to have at least a master’s degree or higher. Experts who work in medical affairs must have enough knowledge and expertise to understand patients and doctors and assist companies in building a bridge between both sides. Moreover, it’s a common practice for companies to demand some level of experience in healthcare or related fields to ensure that candidates are well-versed in industry-specific knowledge. 

The Role of Medical Affairs in Pharmaceutical Companies

The medical affairs department has many roles and responsibilities. It must bridge medical scientists and healthcare product manufacturers. 

The officials of medical affairs departments are increasingly playing the central role of creating coordination among the internal teams for attributes such as commercial, market access, regulatory, clinical development, implementation, and drug safety. 

These teams clearly convey their concerns about the company data and consistently educate on it. Besides these regular pharma medical affairs, its functions can also cover reorienting preclinical research. For this purpose, marketers create special medical affairs strategies. These strategies aim to facilitate trials that investigators initiate based on their predefined areas of interest. 

These strategies would enable the identification of new targets. It will also facilitate accessible developments in future clinical trials and increase knowledge about patients. 

In recent years, continuous regulatory norms have driven the importance of forming medical affairs teams. Many of the responsibilities on the regulatory team have been shifted to medical affairs. Many of the responsibilities include-  

  • Updating policies: Relevant drug and device-related information must be updated regularly to deliver valuable medical information.  
  • Framing training programs: The increased use of MSLs or regional medical liaisons to engage in scientific exchange with healthcare providers requires comprehensive policies and training of sales and marketing employees. 
  • Monitoring MSL employees: As the use of MSLs increases, the compliance issues surrounding these practices increase as well because MSLs must be assessed to ensure they remain compliant with the regulations affecting scientific communication.   
  • Planning the overall budget: Planning the overall budget to contain the development of new therapies and medical devices is another challenge, according to Medical Affairs Resources, Structures & Trends in primary research conducted by Best Practices. 

The researchers also explained that these advanced treatments are pressuring governments to allocate budgets accurately to new therapies and technologies budgeting. 

What Is the Function of Pharma Medical Affairs Today?

What do affairs teams do in Pharma? Medical affairs experts represent pharmaceutical companies and facilitate them in maintaining the flow of information within the medical communities. During their interactions, these communities learn about a particular healthcare product’s market status. 

The following are the main functions of medical affairs in pharmaceutical industries: 

  • Conducting a rough clinical trial: They are responsible for additional clinical trials by non-registered medical affairs professionals.  
  • Analyzing health economics and outcomes: These officials conduct studies on healthcare economics and outcomes from a drug. This study is done to evaluate the results of using a medicine. The main idea behind the study is to estimate the medical cost of a drug and observe the quality of a patient’s life after using the drug.  
  • Assisting a brand in creating a healthcare product: Helping the brand team in formulating pharma medical strategy. 
  • Assessing clinical trial proposals: The officials review proposals for clinical trials that independent investigators prepare. 
  • Representing a publishing plan: Defining a publication plan for each product and coordinating clinical and scientific communication at medical conferences rests with the medical affairs team. 
  • Maintaining healthy relationships with top leaders: Pharma medical affairs professionals nurture relationships with key stakeholders such as healthcare practitioners and academic researchers.  
  • Organizing educational programs: Sponsoring healthcare practitioners’ education programs was in pharma medical affairs’ hands. They support the internal training programs. 
  • Reporting the latest news and insights related to pharmaceutical industries: The medical affairs team is almost like any other industry vertical PR team. They are abreast of the latest happenings within the industry, not just of their organization but of their competitors too.  

How Do Medical Affairs Impact the Pharmaceutical Industry?

Today, medical affairs teams hold great significance within pharmaceutical businesses. They are marking their presence felt due to their collaborative characters. 

These teams are much more collaborative than working in isolation, allowing their expertise to have a wider impact within the medical fraternity. New medical affairs employment opportunities are also rising, indicating a revolution in pharmaceutical industries.

For example, an increasing number of medical sales liaisons in the industry are shaping pharmaceutical companies perfectly enough to remain at the edge of the competition and highly advanced in the upcoming novel treatments. 

The medical affairs team’s contribution has a far-reaching impact on patient care. They are also helping to lead the pharma industry into a new age of scientific development and open collaboration.

How Can Pharmaceuticals Improve Medical Communication Affairs?

Improving medical communication is extremely important for a pharmaceutical company as it needs to translate complex science into layman’s language. 

Thus, medical information and communication professionals make use of data and insights and support medical affairs departments for:

  • Leveraging communicative plans

  • Managing the publication of new information

  • Engaging with experts and thought leaders

  • Providing medical education

  • Facilitating internal communication

  • Organizing and managing HCP events and advisory boards

Many products and devices fail to reach the market because of safety concerns and improper communication. Therefore, it is vital to implement successful medical communication plans throughout the product lifecycle. 

These plans are necessary to include the right stakeholders. Ensuring the right stakeholders can lead to adequate scientific dialogue. 

Evolving New Ways of Medical Information and Communication

Increased scope of activities & exposure

Communicating medical information not only involves interacting with external stakeholders and maintaining up-to-date information on medical news. The report additionally includes-

  • Reviews of a promotional interview

  • Developments in in-field roles

  • Creating product launch tool kits

  • Framing education and training materials

  • Setting up medical information booths

  • Preparing conference presentations and posters

  • Verification of content on product-specific and company-sponsored websites

  • Publications 

  • Organizing clinical trial activities

Digitalization of medical information

 Several digital channels other than emails and phone calls are emerging for effective communication. Examples of novel digital channels for healthcare systems are-

  • Self-service portals 

  • Video-conferencing

  • Social media platforms such as Twitter

  • Online chatbots

  • Voice search is also an emerging trend among different channels. 

These additional means of interaction are expected to expand medical and scientific information transformation with patients and related officers. 

Simplifying verbal communication amid heightened industry demands

The rise of difficult-to-communicate therapies and personalized increased the need for improved communication. It has also become important for success in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a result of these developments, companies are trying to manage contact centers and create accurate response documents effectively. 

Delivering meaningful insights to the industry

A deep insight into medical information activities enables companies to shape the treatment journey of their patients. It also helps them to reduce the hurdles that come up in the way of getting marketing approvals.  

The companies will also be able to identify new patients for clinical trials and even engage with the right key opinion leaders by analyzing their inquiries, which is undeniable. 

Most importantly, they identify trending topics and provide opinions, insights, and metrics to measure content quality usage metrics to reveal the need to address safety, efficiency, or quality issues before the time ends. 

Also, they determine the highly impacted areas that focus on the potentiality of medical education, re-training, or product needs (e.g., formulation change).


Medical affairs in the pharmaceutical industry are frequently observed as supporters of companies. That is why responsibilities are increasingly being transferred from the regulatory departments of this department. Its responsibilities also encompass research in the medical field and communicating the data collected among concerned authorities. 

We live during times marking the paradigm shift from an environment dominated by commercial and marketing interests towards a new dimension in the advancing medical field. Medical knowledge and patients are being centrally focused along with successfully commercializing the prepared drugs. 

If you are looking for an expert communication channel for all medical and life science-related topics, get in touch with the experts at Viseven by filling contact form below.

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