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Teams with Niche Products Begin Continuing Medical Education Program Activities Early in a Product’s Lifecycle

Continuing medical education programs — or independent medical education programs — are a key component of increasing treatment and disease awareness.  However, the firewall separating medical affairs teams from third-party vendors can prove especially challenging when attempting to increase product awareness.  To maintain accreditation, third-party vendors must plan and implement these programs without influence from pharmaceutical company teams.

The question of when to begin continuing medical education (CME) activities can also present a challenge to company teams.  Generally, vendors wait until after a treatment becomes available to begin conducting independent medical education (IME) events — however, this may vary depending on a team’s product type.  For instance, teams that support niche products are more likely to begin continuing medical education activities before their product clears all the development phases.  On the other hand, teams with blockbuster products usually wait until launch before funding these activities.  While this pattern doesn’t apply to all teams, data show that product type serves as a strong indicator of continuing medical education program activity start times.

Cutting Edge Information’s Medical Affairs Product Launch Series’ eighth module, Funding Independent Medical Education Grants, examines the lifecycle stage that surveyed teams begin IME grant activities.  Figure 1 shows the cumulative percentage of surveyed teams that begin these activities at each lifecycle stage, by product type.

  • Surveyed teams supporting niche products begin activities the earliest. During Phase 3a, 40% of surveyed niche product teams begin continuing medical education program activities — over half (60%) start by registration/launch.  Niche products target smaller subsets of therapeutic areas with lesser known well-known treatment options, so teams may start at an earlier lifecycle stage to increase product awareness.
  • Just 20% of surveyed teams with common products start IME activities prior to launch, with 60% waiting until registration/launch.
  • Surveyed blockbuster teams wait the longest to begin CME activities. A third of these teams initiate CME program activities at registration/launch — the majority (67%) start after launch.  Teams with blockbuster products typically see little need to fund medical education grants before launch because awareness of the disease and treatment options is already high.

Continuing Medical Education Programs blog Figure

Figure 1: Continuing Medical Education Activity Start: by Product Type

While other factors, such as company size and region, can affect when teams begin IME activities, product type has one of the largest effects.  Taking product type into account when planning continuing medical education programs can help teams get the largest benefit from these events.

To learn more about the research findings in Funding Independent Medical Education Grants, download the module summary here.

Matthew Doscher
Research Analyst

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