Medical Affairs

As the demand for real-world evidence grows, physicians are less reliant on medical sales representatives and turning to more scientific sources of information. Thus, in recent years the Medical Affairs function has significantly broadened and increased in importance, as pharmaceutical companies are shifting their focus from products to outcomes.


Today’s Challenges

When recruiting for medical affairs roles, traditionally pharmaceutical companies had a tendency to employ physicians with clinical experience and medical knowledge, but not necessarily business acumen. As they seen the job only as a supporting function to engage physicians and researchers, companies kept focusing on medical marketing instead.

These days, however, the medical affairs function is assuming new responsibilities and facing a broader range of expectations. The traditional medical background is no longer sufficient to succeed, as medical affairs personnel must adapt to various external challenges, especially as market access environment is becoming increasingly more difficult. To tackle these challenges, medical affairs professionals must be able to establish strong relationships with ever more sophisticated payers, patient and advocacy groups.

With a clear understanding of stakeholder needs, strong value story and evidence to support it, medical affairs can be the driving force in unified collaborative approach to delivering value to its stakeholders. However, identifying individuals with the right all-round skills is a challenge in itself.

Tomorrow’s Choices

If you are looking to hire people for medical affairs role, the key is to look for candidates who not only meet clinical and technical criteria but also have other strengths and distinctive skills needed to achieve success.

Learning agility: Ability to learn quickly and continuously is one of these skills, as candidates will not succeed through their current medical knowledge alone. Sooner or later new products or therapeutic area will replace the existing ones, so they will have to be able to adapt.

Business acumen: Future medical affairs managers must be familiar with the entire commercialisation process and understand broader marketplace dynamics if they want to deal with other business leaders on the same level. At the same time, they need to be able to interpret scientific activities for commercial colleagues.

Strategic vision: Medical affairs professionals must be able to work effectively in matrix organisations and/or cross-functional teams. Collaboration in lifecycle planning with commercial and product development colleagues is crucial to keep medical affairs in sync with the rest of the organisation.

Interpersonal skills: To understand and engage colleagues and external stakeholders, medical affairs person must work well in a team and be able to communicate effectively across multiple channels including conferences and meetings.

Understanding compliance: Medical affairs must be able to operate effectively within the constraints of an increasingly compliance-driven environment.

Related Roles

Medical affairs department focuses on clinical drug development in the post-approval phase and is responsible for the medical and scientific aspects of pharmaceutical marketing. The typical responsibilities involve medical communications and publications, management of key opinion leaders, advisory boards and medical information. Medical affairs roles are usually occupied by physicians (MDs), pharmacists (MPharm) or postgraduates (PhD holders) in pharmaceutical medicine.


Medical Scientific Liaison (MSL)


Medical Information Specialist


Medical Advisor


Medical Manager


Medical Director


Chief Scientific Officer

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