Medical conferences provide one of the most valuable opportunities for pharma to engage with key stakeholders, but until recently, it was extremely difficult to gather and analyse relevant information from conference data

Medical conferences provide one of the most valuable opportunities for pharma to engage with key stakeholders across the product lifecycle. Yet, all too often, attendees get caught out on the day by a late breaking poster or an unexpected presentation detailing new information or even adverse events about their product. This is not surprising when conferences generate such vast amounts of data.

For example, the poster and presentation abstract section on the website for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology lists 2,997 abstracts spread over 201 pages.

ASCO 2017 generated almost 5,000 abstracts and more than a fifth of those (954) mention breast cancer. That search can be refined even further, but while conference abstracts are often released two weeks, a month, or even six weeks in advance, Medical Affairs teams are still left with notable quantities of material to digest.

Until recently, it was extremely difficult and time consuming for pharma to gather relevant information from conference data ahead of an event and analyse it. In fact, from May 2017 through to May 2019, there are 729 medical conferences related to women’s health alone. However, analytics now enables industry to quickly uncover the relevant information and competitive intelligence that can help it predict what is likely to be discussed about a drug.

For example, a Medmeme metric called Share of Scientific Voice (SoSV) measures the amount of scientific activity about any particular product or disease state globally or even down to a specific meeting or region. You can also drill down to specific scientific imperatives for respective pharmaceutical products and measure SoSV in the same manner amongst a competitive set.

Share of Scientific Impact (SOSI) takes that calculation even further by essentially giving every entity and abstract a weighted score based on its relevancy to a topic or drug class.  So, while there will be many impactful presentations at ASCO this year, SOSI can determine which of those presentations are the most impactful within the area of, for example, non-small cell lung cancer versus the most impactful for breast cancer.

All the competitive information that surfaces, which could include newly presented ‘organic data’ – i.e. product-related data that has been generated by an independent investigator or even a competitor’s data – can then be imported into a convenient report for the entire product team.

Armed with this information, Medical Affairs teams can develop a comprehensive strategy that leverages or responds to any critical information discussed about a product or the competition. This could include specific approved-for-promotion materials at the booth or possibly unsolicited response documents that enable the medical information team to address an issue on the spot. This type of information can be extremely powerful for the product team and key opinion leaders (KOLs) who might be quizzed at the conference.

By taking this kind of proactive approach, pharma companies can ensure they have a strong grasp of the topics that are likely to be discussed at a conference and are prepared to respond to them in an insightful and strategic manner. This enables them to make the most of the huge opportunities that these events offer and ensure they are presenting themselves and their evidence in the best possible light.

Simon Mason is chief commercial officer, Medmeme