Scientific Message Mapping: A Pillar of Strategy

April 20, 2015
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A few weeks ago, I published a blog about content marketing and publication planning. The gist of it was that the science of content marketing as we practice it today includes a lot of similar principles and practices to creating an effective publication strategy for the development of a drug, biologic, diagnostic or medical device.

In scientific communications, publication planning is essential in order to maximize the value of the “asset” (drug, device, diagnostic or biologic) in development. Publishing data is the means by which regulated products are approved (or not approved) by the FDA and regulatory authorities throughout the developed world. Given the $2.6 billion average cost to bring a drug to market these days, getting this part of the process right is absolutely critical to success.

One of the pillars of a successful publication strategy is scientific message mapping. What is scientific message mapping? Well I thought you’d never ask…

In a perfect world, scientific messages are created as part of a structured, target product profiling process. Based on the targeted label and clinical development plan for the asset, scientific messages are developed and mapped to planned studies, matching messages with desired outcomes for each study. I think of it as “reverse engineering.” In very simple terms, scientific message mapping as part of target product profiling is a step-wise planning process that progresses this way:

  1. Ideal label
  2. Data required to achieve that label
  3. Clinical development program required to produce that data
  4. Scientific messages that will flow out of each data set 
  5. Data dissemination strategy (publications, congresses, symposia, presentations, etc.)

Sounds simple, right? The fact is that this is a very systematic, strategic process that takes an enormous amount of planning, coordination and flawless execution from multiple internal and external teams. The C-suite, medical affairs, clinical development teams, commercial teams and external partners all have a role to play here.

While it can be complex, scientific message mapping is also extremely engaging and (for those of us who like building strategies), fun to be a part of.

I am fortunate to work with some of the best in the business to create publication strategies for clients throughout the world. It really is a team approach, with many moving parts working together to achieve a result. And when it is done just right, scientific message mapping is like creating a symphony.

I love my work.