It is now becoming increasingly obvious that overall global health can be improved not just by developing drugs and vaccines to manage health but also by ensuring that when treatment options are available, the information is relayed to the prescribers and patients in an unbiased manner so that there is increased adoption. In the pharmaceutical industry, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) highly respected for their expertise in specific therapeutic areas, play a key role across the drug lifecycle – ranging from drug discovery, analyzing treatment outcomes, to driving R&D efforts and helping with adoption. These pharma ‘influencers’ wield significant influence over the process and outcome of drug development and marketing.
Key Opinion Leaders: Pharma-Influencers or more?
KOLs are usually researchers in a particular therapeutic area, they may be editors or contributors to key journals, may hold offices in professional associations and are frequent presenters at conferences. Traditionally, KOLs helped disseminate information through publications, speaker programs conducted by pharmaceutical companies, conferences organized by the government or professional associations, seminars etc. However, in the current digital era, they also share their opinions through blog posts, digital news articles, social media, or webinars.
Due to their strong pedigree and professional stature, KOLs exert a strong influence over other Health Care Professionals (HCPs). Their assessment of various treatment options influences the prescribing patterns of HCPs and in many cases tends to influence patient behavior as well.
As KOLs rise in prominence over the course of their career, their circle of influence expands to cover larger audiences of peers and patients. For the pharmaceutical industry, KOLs can therefore have an impact on the entire drug lifecycle, right from identifying unmet needs, to drug development, product launch, and market performance.