MSL Conduct Dos and Don’ts | H1 (2023)

Interaction between MSLs and Commercial Teams Follow Strict Rules‍

Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) are in the field (almost) every day and so are their field-based commercial colleagues, specifically sales representatives. Although they interact with the same people, healthcare providers (HCPs) and experts such as key opinion leaders (KOLs) in particular, professionals in medical and commercial roles need to make sure to keep their distance from each other and avoid even the appearance of merging their distinctive roles. MSLs are trusted scientific advisors to HCPs, who provide truthful, non-misleading medical and scientific information, whereas the sales rep’s focus is commercial and promotional and geared towards convincing the HCP of the merits of the company’s drug.

While the difference between the job of an MSL and that of a sales rep sounds straightforward in theory, in practice, there is a fine line that both MSLs and sales reps must be very careful not to cross.

Walking the Fine Line Between Scientific Information and Commercial Activity‍

This blog provides a short summary of these danger zones, where the line between a scientific and commercial exchange might be easy to blur or accidentally step over. For a comprehensive overview we recommend reading the “Medical Science Liaison Guidelines” published by the Medical Science Liaison Society.

KOL Selection‍

MSLs have an important role to play in KOL mapping and selection but need to stay squarely on the scientific/medical side of things. An expert’s reputation in the scientific community, their publication record, or clinical studies that might align with the MSL’s medical plan, are fair game. However, commercial factors, e.g. the KOL’s potential to prescribe the company’s drug, are off limits and cannot be a factor an MSL considers when evaluating KOL candidates.

Meeting with HPCs and KOLs‍

On first glance, joint meetings of MSLs and commercial representatives with a KOL seem like an efficient way to conduct business. However, such a meeting would clearly mix scientific exchange and promotional discussion and is therefore prohibited. An MSL and field sales personnel should never jointly visit a healthcare provider.

There is one exception to this rule: introductory meetings. An initial, introductory meeting between the MSL and the KOL can happen with a commercial representative present. However, the scope of such a meeting is extremely limited to exchanging contact information and reviewing areas of expertise. During the introductory meetings the MSL needs to diligently stay away from any discussion of off-label uses of the drug (scientific or otherwise) and promotional activities of any kind. Should the discussion veer into the commercial, the MSL should leave the room.

Sharing Information‍

Both MSLs and commercial representatives collect data about the HCPs they interact with. The information gathered during these visits needs to be handled so that the separation of scientific exchange and promotional discussions is preserved. Concretely this means that an MSL can share basic information about the date and time of a visit and – after the meeting – give a general overview of the topics that were discussed but can’t divulge any specific details or share the HCPs feedback and perceptions.

Conferences, Educational Programs, Symposia‍

Medical conferences and meetings are one of the areas where the wall between the medical and commercial teams is the most difficult to implement, especially if the company has a booth. Since the booth will likely be staffed with members of the commercial team, MSLs can’t meet their KOL colleagues there to discuss scientific topics. These discussions need to happen in a separate designated area that can only be staffed by medical affairs personnel.

In addition to meeting with KOLs and HCPs for medical/scientific discussions, MSLs can attend scientific sessions, poster sessions, and symposia.

Educational programs offered by the company have to be non-commercial/promotional and therefore cannot include any commercial personnel.

Internal Training‍

As scientific subject matter experts, MSLs can provide training to their commercial colleagues. Educating them about the underlying science of the disease, the therapeutic area, and providing scientific updates or overviews are all fair game. The topic to stay far away from however, is discussion of any off-label indications.

These rules might seem stringent, but they are necessary to keep the roles of medical science liaisons and sales representatives clearly separated and distinct. While sales representatives are tasked with discussing the (on label uses) of the company’s marketed products, the MSLs need to take all necessary steps to remain credible in their role as objective professionals that the HCPs can reach out to when they are looking for balanced, non-promotional scientific information.


Can MSLs talk off-label? ›

MSLs are prohibited from promoting off-label uses of products and disseminating medical/scientific information that is false or lacking fair balance. The risk of MSLs becoming “off-label sales representatives” is real; thus it is crucial for MSLs and others to evaluate their tolerance level.

How can I be an effective MSL? ›

While MSLs are not sales representatives, they ARE proactive educators. This means that as an MSL, you will consistently reach out to people with the intent to educate them about your company and its products. To be successful at this, you must always maintain diplomacy, self-discipline, and integrity.

Is being an MSL easy? ›

Becoming an MSL professional is not an easy task, but the certification is worth it. In addition to the higher pay, your organization will give you an official car, and you will get flexible working hours. All these together make building a career in the pharmaceutical industry worthwhile.

What are the responsibilities and daily activities of a patient liaison? ›

What Does a Patient Liaison Do?
  • Meet with patients to discuss potential treatment options and healthcare coverage, and help them prepare for upcoming medical procedures.
  • Collect patient data to share with medical professionals and fill out necessary healthcare information.

Is MSL well paid? ›

While the overall average base salary for an MSL in the U.S. in 2021 is $175,066, there is a considerable range in salaries based on years of experience.

What skills are most important for MSL? ›

What are the most important MSL skills? Excellent communication skills are pivotal to the success of an MSL. The ability to communicate effectively has an impact on many key responsibilities vital to the MSL role. As an MSL, you will be required to develop relationships with KOLs.

What are hard skills for medical science liaison? ›

The most common hard skill for a medical science liaison is patients. 10.6% medical science liaisons have this skill on their resume. The second most common hard skill for a medical science liaison is medical affairs appearing on 8.7% of resumes. The third most common is msl on 7.3% of resumes.

What is the best MSL salary? ›

What are Top 5 Best Paying Related MSL Jobs in California
Job TitleAnnual SalaryWeekly Pay
Senior Medical Science Liaison$141,771$2,726
Medical Science Liaison Neurology$139,389$2,680
Medical Science Liaison Genentech$139,352$2,679
Oncology Medical Science Liaison MSL$138,512$2,663
1 more row

What is a typical day for MSL? ›

The MSL position differs across companies but typically, you work from home 1-2 days per week and then travel roughly 3 days/week. It is a very flexible position, in that generally you are responsible for your schedule and are setting meetings.

What is the average age for MSL? ›

5 median-age MLS squads
TeamAverage agePoints per game
Inter Miami CF25.561.0
FC Cincinnati25.621.45
D.C. United25.631.33
Seattle Sounders FC25.920.88
1 more row
May 11, 2022

How much does Novartis pay MSL? ›

The estimated total pay for a Medical Science Liaison at Novartis is $234,169 per year.

What are the four patients responsibilities? ›

Every patient or client has the following responsibilities:

to take care of his or her health. to care for and protect the environment. to respect the rights of other patients and health providers. to utilise the health care system properly and not abuse it.

What is the most important part of a healthcare community liaison job? ›

Ability to work well in a team, exhibiting good interpersonal skills and positive attitude. Ability to communicate clearly and concisely in both verbal and written forms.

What is an example of a liaison management role? ›

For example, an individual working as a hotel manager happens to have a function that requires extra chefs. The manager then calls three of their former colleagues working as chefs to provide the services needed, which is an act of liaison.

What is the minimum salary in the MSL? ›

Slots 21-24 may be filled with (i) Senior Minimum Salary Players ($84,000), which may include Homegrown Players, (ii) Generation adidas Players, (iii) any specifically designated players eligible for the MLS SuperDraft; or (iv) Homegrown Players earning more than the Senior Minimum Salary subject to the Homegrown ...

Is MSL a stable job? ›

Medical science liaison roles are great opportunities for life science professionals to be involved in ground-breaking research and see how it directly impacts patient care. With the projection of global growth in the MSL field, now could be the perfect time to consider this as a viable option.

How much does Pfizer Medical Science Liaison make? ›

Medical Science Liaison (MSL) salaries at Pfizer can range from $122,780-$131,646.

What are 3 important skills that a good clinical data entry associate should have? ›

Three common soft skills for a data entry associate are interpersonal skills, organizational skills and writing skills.

How do you give an MSL presentation? ›

Rocking the MSL Presentation
  1. Introduce yourself. ...
  2. Step your audience into each section of your presentation, for example: “For the next 5 minutes we will review…”
  3. Look at the audience, not at the screen. ...
  4. Be humble, confident, and poised. ...
  5. Present facts, not conjecture. ...
  6. Engage your audience as much as possible.
Jan 4, 2022

What questions should I ask a MSL? ›

Questions Medical Science Liaisons Candidates Can Ask Hiring Managers
  • How do you measure a Medical Science Liaison's (MSLs) success?
  • What are currently the top 3 priorities of this role?
  • What do the first ninety days in this role look like?
Mar 31, 2020

What qualities should a liaison have? ›

What skills does a liaison officer need?
  • Communication. This may be one of the most important skills that a liaison officer needs. ...
  • Problem-solving. Liaison officers may face problems in their day-to-day tasks that require solving. ...
  • Self-motivated. ...
  • Public-speaking skills. ...
  • Organisation. ...
  • Conflict resolution.
Aug 31, 2021

What is the strongest skill in a medical office? ›

Excellent Communication and Interpersonal Skills

You will be talking on the phone to patients, insurance company representatives, doctors, and hospital and lab administrators. You will also be communicating with patients in person and relaying information from patients to doctors and doctors to patients.

How to get a job in MSL without experience? ›

To become a medical science liaison with no experience, a person needs to ensure they have the right educational qualifications and develop expertise in a specific therapeutic area. This will help a person get a job as a medical science liaison without prior pharmaceutical experience.

How much does Novartis pay MSL in USA? ›

The typical Novartis Medical Science Liaison salary is $110,000. Medical Science Liaison salaries at Novartis can range from $108,837 - $120,828.

How much does a MSL at Merck make? ›

Filter by location to see Medical Science Liaison salaries in your area. Salary estimates are based on 56 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Medical Science Liaison employees.
What is the salary trajectory for a Medical Science Liaison?
Job TitleSalary
Senior Medical Science Liaison$145,070 /yr
2 more rows

Is an MSL a drug rep? ›

MSLs are trusted scientific advisors to HCPs, who provide truthful, non-misleading medical and scientific information, whereas the sales rep's focus is commercial and promotional and geared towards convincing the HCP of the merits of the company's drug.

How many hours a week do MSLs work? ›

They spend, on average, 46 to 50 hours per week on the job.

How much does a MSL earn in USA? ›

How much does a Medical Science Liaison make in USA? The average medical science liaison salary in the USA is $171,000 per year or $82.21 per hour. Entry level positions start at $150,004 per year while most experienced workers make up to $200,000 per year.

How much does a senior MSL earn in the US? ›

The salaries of Senior Medical Science Liaisons in the US range from $170,000 to $205,000 , with a median salary of $198,750 . The middle 67% of Senior Medical Science Liaisons makes $192,500, with the top 67% making $205,000.

How much does a Medical Science Liaison earn in the US? ›

How much does a Medical Science Liaison make? The national average salary for a Medical Science Liaison is $1,65,022 in United States.

How much does a MSL at Vertex Pharmaceuticals make? ›

$271,424. The estimated total pay for a Senior Medical Science Liaison at Vertex Pharmaceuticals is $271,424 per year.

How much do MSL make with Sanofi? ›

As of Mar 1, 2023, the average annual pay for a Sanofi Medical Science Liaison in the United States is $132,929 a year.

How much does a MSL at Novo Nordisk make? ›

$235,996. The estimated total pay for a Senior Medical Science Liaison at Novo Nordisk is $235,996 per year.

Can medical devices be used off-label? ›

FDA expressly prohibits "misbranding" of medical products, which includes labeling a product with misleading information, such as off-label uses. (Wittich et al.)

Is off-label prescribing illegal? ›

Off-label prescribing is when a physician gives you a drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat a condition different than your condition. This practice is legal and common. In fact, one in five prescriptions written today are for off-label use.

Can drug companies advertise off-label use? ›

Manufacturers can communicate about off-label uses of their drugs in a number of ways. Companies are permitted to respond to unsolicited requests from health care professionals about unapproved uses and might also support independent continuing medical education activities at which off-label uses are discussed.

Can any drug be prescribed off-label? ›

From the FDA perspective, once the FDA approves a drug, healthcare providers generally may prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient.

What is Rule 44 in labeling of medical devices? ›

According to Rule-44 (n), the importer can provide the labelling by sticking the label for any imported device. However, if the details are not already printed, the import license number, name, address, and the manufacturer's details with the manufacturing date are necessary to be mentioned.

Does Hipaa apply to medical devices? ›

The HIPAA privacy rules also apply to medical devices, and their manufacturers must follow HIPAA compliance — otherwise, companies risk fines or more severe punishments. Only the medical devices that transmit, receive or record health information need to be HIPAA compliant.

Can medical devices be sold without FDA approval? ›

In short, no. In order to market or sell a medical device, it must be registered, cleared, or approved by the FDA. In 1976, Congress amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to allow the FDA to regulate medical devices before they're legally sold in the US. This was done to ensure safety and effectiveness.

What is potentially inappropriate prescribing? ›

Potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) is the prescribing, or underprescribing, of medications for older persons that may cause significant harm.

What is inappropriate prescribing? ›

Prescription medications are essential to the treatment and management of many conditions, but they are not without risk. Potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) is when healthcare providers (HCPs) prescribe medications that may cause more harm than benefit, are not cost-effective, or are not clinically indicated.

What does the P of Pom stand for? ›

Prescription-only medicine ( POM ) to pharmacy ( P ) medicine. A medicine will be non-prescription unless it fulfils the criteria for prescription control as set out below.

What is considered a medication error? ›

A medication error is defined as "any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer,” according to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention.

Does insurance cover off-label use? ›

Many insurance companies will not pay for an expensive drug that's used in a way that's not listed in the approved drug label. They do this on the grounds that its use is “experimental” or “investigational.”

Does FDA approve off-label use? ›

Off-label uses of a drug can become approved uses if the company that makes it obtains approval from the FDA. To gain the added approvals, the company must conduct research studies to show that the treatment is safe and effective for the new uses.

What's the most serious warning on a package insert? ›

A black box warning is the FDA's most stringent warning for drugs and medical devices on the market. Black box warnings, or boxed warnings, alert the public and health care providers to serious side effects, such as injury or death.

Can a pharmacist refuse to fill an off-label prescription? ›

Yes, a pharmacist in his or her professional judgment may refuse to fill a prescription. Can I return my prescription to the pharmacy? No, the pharmacy is not required by law to take back prescriptions that have been dispensed. Can the pharmacist give out my personal medical information?

What is gabapentin off-label for? ›

Gabapentinoids are with approved by the FDA to treat certain specific conditions, such as seizures and fibromyalgia, but 95% of prescriptions are for off-label uses such as low-back pain, post-operative pain, nerve injury, and other pain conditions.

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