MSL Teams: Field Force size and structure

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Publication Date:
February 2018
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Medical Science Liaison (MSL) personnel play an ever crucial and widening role in communicating the value and science of increasingly complex therapies to opinion leaders and stakeholder groups. The challenge for senior management is to ensure their MSL teams are optimally provided for in terms of staff and resources. But what is optimum? What are the factors that determine MSL team size? How many brands should they represent? What education and experience should you be looking for and is it reflected in the financial rewards paid?

The answers to these and many other questions can be found in MSL Teams: Field Force Size and Structure. This extensive market survey reveals the insights of 100 knowledgeable MSLs/MSL managers (50 US and 50 Western Europe). Rich in tables, charts and statistics, it delivers the critical data you need to benchmark your own MSL structure, understand the varying trends in the US and Western Europe and identify areas of challenge and resolution.

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  • Why this report is important
  • What the report can do for you
  • Report contents
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Why this report is important

The MSL function is pharma's direct engagement channel to KOLs and influential stakeholder groups. Their role in nurturing non-commercial relationships and explaining the science and value of brands is recognised and valued. But MSL teams come at a cost and, as their workload expands, senior management needs to ensure the important relationships they develop and the vital feedback they deliver are optimally supported. Teams must be developed for the level of work in hand, and, as this survey reveals, there are wide differences in practice. While MSL investment is expected to increase over the next two years in many companies, some MSLs imply that not all is well, with 40% of US and 62% of European MSLs suggesting their teams are under resourced. In an atmosphere of budget control, are some companies in danger of undermining this essential function?

MSLs speak out on…

  • Geography: What territory size do the majority of MSLs cover?
  • Team size: What factors and performance indicators determine the size of the MSL team and which are most important?
  • Field-based or office-based? Where will outsourced MSLs be used in the future and how does this compare with their in-house MSL colleagues?
  • Brands: 1? 3? 5? What is the average number of brands supported by a MSL team and how does practice in the US and Western Europe differ?
  • Qualifications: What are the educational profiles of US and Western European MSLs and what insights do these stats have for recruiters?
  • Financial rewards: Being an MSL in the US is more financially rewarding than in Europe; what does the survey reveal about pay scales and experience levels?
  • Resources: What factors are driving investment or cost saving in MSL resourcing?
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MSL views from leading companies

This survey report provides an extensive and detailed investigation into MSL team size and structure and draws on the front-line responses from MSLs/MSL managers in leading companies…


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Survey contents

MSL Management and Team Structure

  • MSL management roles
  • Geographic areas of responsibility
  • MSL team sizes
  • Numbers of in-house versus contract/outsourced MSLs
  • Current split between field-based and office-based MSL teams
  • Future split between field-based and office-based MSL teams
  • Current allocation of MSL time by location
  • Future allocation of MSL time by location
  • Geographical coverage
  • Number of brands supported
  • Factors that determine MSL team sizes currently
  • The relative importance of these factors now
  • The relative importance of these factors over the next two years

Experience and Financial Rewards

  • Typical experience of MSLs
  • Minimum experience requirements for MSL executive management roles
  • Financial compensation for MSLs relative to experience
  • Levels of education among MSLs

MSL Team Resources

  • Adequacy of MSL team resources now
  • Expected change in level of resources over the next two years
  • Reasons for change in the level of resources
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