Key Opinion Leaders are often high up in the ranks in the hospital and pretty powerful people in the community and (clinical) boards and societies. It can be difficult to say no to them when they ask for company clinical research funding/IIS support.
For instance they might ask grant support from the company to do an Investigator Initiated Study (IIS). And it sounds like a great study, but it might not be in line with the strategy of the company?
Many MSLs would feel reluctant to say no to the KOL. After all, this is a very influential KOL with a lot of contacts, power and influence in your country.
There are a few ways to manage this well as an MSL.
First of all, always look at the merits of the IIS/research proposal. NEVER provide funding because a doctor is a high prescriber. This would be non-compliant!
Second, you don't need to decide on the spot. I always ask for a half/full A4 abstract of what the KOL has in mind to explore in the IIS.
Third, manage expectations from the onset!!! The moment you talk about these projects, you have to manage expectations. Mention, IIS funding is very competitive, and there is a limited budget. "The chances of success are low doctor, but Ill do my best, but there are no guarantees."
Fourth, mention to the doctor that there are certain strategic IIS objectives that studies need to align with. "I will talk to the global team and get the strategic alignment on IIS proposals and let's meet again in a few weeks". Now you have a follow up meeting lined up and where you can also discuss the full process of IIS applications.
Fifth, never promise or mention to the doctor that the research has been approved until you have the final approval (email) from head office. We have seen things having been reversed last minute.
Manage expectations well with KOLs, you don't want to burn your relationships, and they understand this. They have been around long enough.
Under promise, work hard, and over deliver!!!
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