Over the past few years, many of my medical affairs field leadership clients across all therapeutic areas have considered expanding their field-based medical teams. What struck me recently was that easily half of these clients were the oncology field medical leadership. Being ZSers, our internal medical affairs team decided to run some quick analyses to see if we could figure out what was going on. What we discovered was startling.
The rule of thumb most often cited is that for every 10 sales reps, you should have 1 medical science liaison (MSL) in field. Based on data from a few years ago, this was absolutely the case, though, of course, individual companies and teams had wide variations based on business need and their historical presence with MSLs, among other factors. But, when we analyzed PharmaForce’s 2014 data on U.S. MSL and sales rep staffing levels, we saw that the general rule of 10 to 1 didn’t hold true for oncology (see Figure 1).