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Do Authentic Relationships Really Matter?

Nurturing Authentic Relationships

in Drug Development

I have had my business for 8 years this June (8 years! OMG). That is feeling really big and I thought it would be interesting to share some of my key learnings and what goes on “behind the scenes” for the projects I work on for my clients.

Overall, the main projects we produce for clients are advisory boards and executive encounters, or congress engagements. At their basis, these are KOL engagements where a variety of topics are discussed. 


Phase 3 plans, medical launch messaging, disease state knowledge, and insights on gaps in treatment are just some of the many topics. My clients are medical experts in dermatology, oncology, gastroenterology and others and know their therapeutic areas incredibly well.

What is my job for these engagements? First, it’s to manage all the logistics and planning to make it happen. Getting the right people in the door. Years of experience in therapeutic areas helps you build strong relationship with the top clinical experts. It's also agenda development, moderator support, content development, and executive summary. 

So that’s the high-level view.

But these KOL engagements are so much more than a one-meeting discussion on inclusion criteria or treatment gaps. Drug development is a journey, with multiple stages and needs. Many questions needs to be answered and challenges tackled along the way.


The goal of every drug development team – starting from R&D and preclinical testing to clinical development, medical affairs and on, should be unified in building a strong stakeholder network of experts that can guide you on market gaps, biomarkers, trial recruitment, safety monitoring, filings, and the myriad of other things that come up.

Many of the best experts are strong in many of these areas, if not all. When a strong and authentic relationship is built from the start and nurtured along the way, you not only get expert insights and guidance, you also get a colleague, friend, and true helper that will want to see your team and your compound succeed. They've invested their time with you and know the intricate details of your compound and its journey.

Why is this beneficial? It's not just for the good times. When you are at a major moment or crossroads in your development – perhaps being late on trial enrollment, or having an issue with your inclusion criteria and needing to modify, the advisor that you’ve built that authentic relationship with will make the time to discuss with you. Even if it’s for an hour after the last session of the day at the congress, or a phone call on Sunday after flying back home to Europe.


They’ll be the first to suggest a great partner you may need for an analysis – and even introduce you. They’ll offer creative and unique suggestions to answer the questions at hand – answers that come from their years of experience. They'll most certainly offer suggestions and ideas that you and your team have not thought of.


They know the background, so you can get right to the details. You can’t do that with an advisor who you only met once at an advisory board 6 months ago.


How is that authenticity built and reciprocated? By listening. Hearing what they are saying. Getting to know them as people, not just clinical experts. Remembering what makes them unique. Knowing what their goals are. Are they strong Principal Investigators who are interested in serving on a Data Safety Monitoring Committee? Are they looking for presentation opportunities? Along your journey, you can help them meet their goals along with yours. 

Building authentic relationships really matters. I've seen by how much.

In my next article I’ll share some of the things we do to provide a great environment for enabling these long-term authentic relationships. Stay tuned.