A KOL by Any Other Name Should Pharma Replace the Term “Key Opinion Leader”?
Pharmaguy interviews Sanjay Singhvi, Director, System Analytic (see Bio), about “KOL” terminology and the research his company conducted around it with real KOLs and pharmaceutical executives to determine if the term should be changed and, if so, what term should be used in its place.

Air Date: Monday, 30 March 2015

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Alternative Terms for KOL
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of medical experts (physicians who could be deemed genuine experts) believe the pharmaceutical industry should replace the term Key Opinion Leader (KOL) – according to the results of a new international online survey to be presented today at the Medical Affairs Leaders Forum in Berlin, Germany. The survey was conducted by System Analytic, a company that helps pharmaceutical teams to “identify, map, and engage with their medical experts and key stakeholders.”

Unfortunately, there was no consensus on what that universal replacement should be, although according to Rosie Bougoffa, outreach and engagement specialist at System Analytic, “Several pharmaceutical companies are now moving away from the term ‘KOL’ as a response to the negative commentary from outside the industry.”

The most popular alternative to the term KOL among pharmaceutical executives was “external expert”, while only 4% of medical respondents appeared to favor this term. Highest scoring alternatives among medical expert participants included “therapeutic area expert” and “expert physician”. However, there was an overall lack of consistency on what exactly they thought the replacement term should be — with a total of 24 different options being put forward by the medical expert responders.

Questions/Topics of Discussion

  • Are pharmaceutical companies still using the term KOL?
  • Why the interest in changing the terminology?
  • Is this a divisive/controversial issue?
  • Is this a superficial change or reflective of something deeper?
  • What about “KOLs” themselves? What do they think?
  • How does all this affect vendors/service providers? E.g. What are they searching for in Google – still searching for “KOL Mapping”?!

Guest Bio

Sanjay SinghviAs co-founder of System Analytic, Sanjay Singhvi balances the clinical with the commercial to direct the overall development of tools & services. He has worked in pharmaceutical marketing services for several years in a number of roles, including Director roles in leading healthcare agencies. Sanjay has a degree in Biochemistry from the University of London, a degree in Medicine from Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. His post-graduate thesis was a study on why most healthcare communication agencies are doomed to eventual failure — for which he received a First Class commendation. Sanjay is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.