The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Lynn Nye, PhD, Strategic Thinker
Our philosophy for advisory boards is simple: clearly define and agree on the objective, then prepare and rehearse every aspect of an ad board prior to the event. While that may sounds obvious, you might be surprised by how many companies don’t do it.
Sometimes our clients ask us to help set up and facilitate an ad board or to help them with specific aspects of an ad board. Sometimes they do it all themselves and ask us to attend as observers. Our team has participated in a large number of ad boards, and the following is a generalization of what we have observed.
|The Spectrum in Advisory Boards|
All objectives are met, and we learn new things that support commercial success and benefit patients.
Only part of the agenda is covered, and we don’t get all the input needed to support specific initiatives.
The company is not presented well, and/or the KOL participants disrupt the meeting with their own agendas.
A Tale of Two Companies
These are real-life examples from 2 different diagnostics companies. Both said they had participated in many ad boards in the past. Company A asked us to help select and recruit the participants, prepare and set up the ad board, and facilitate the discussion. Company B had already identified the participants but was having a problem in recruiting them for the meeting; they asked us to invite and confirm some well-known KOLs, help edit the company’s presentation materials on their predefined topics, and attend the meeting. Both companies had similar objectives.
|Company A||Company B|
Although the objectives were similar, the process and outcomes were very different. Our Medical Minds process has been developed and refined over the past 20 years and typically involves the activities followed by Company A in preparation for the meeting.
|Process Followed by Company A||Mistakes Made by Company B|
|Agree on objectives and preparation process.|
|Work with the client to identify and recruit ad board participants with experience that matches the objectives.||Invited opinion leaders that they already knew. Did not question the match with the objectives.|
|Conduct premeeting telephone interviews with each participant to support development of the agenda and uncover questions that may be asked at the ad board.||Decided that premeeting interviews were not necessary, so did not identify potential questions nor develop answers prior to the ad board meeting.|
|4. Create an agenda including:
||Developed agenda without input from the opinion leaders, and 2 company personnel presented all the topics.|
|5. Develop presentations collaboratively, and critique and rehearse with senior management.||Senior management decided that rehearsals were not necessary because they had already participated in multiple ad boards.|
Company A’s ad board went smoothly. Senior management presented the company’s recent product development and financial successes; different opinion leaders presented and facilitated discussion on new developments in diagnostics in different disease categories. The premeeting interviews revealed a perceived issue with assay reproducibility over time. Being forewarned allowed the head of product development to compile extensive internal and external quality control data that overcame this perception and minimized extensive discussion during the meeting. At the end of the day, Company A came away with a better understanding of the landscape and new directions for future development as well as some potential collaborations.
Company B’s ad board was not as smooth. The opinion leaders had their own ideas about topics of importance. When the head of product development presented preliminary data obtained using the current test in potential new indications, a well-known statistician from a major medical institution shut down the discussion by saying that the results were not statistically significant so they therefore did not mean anything. In response, a primary investigator from one of the company’s clinical trials said that there is a large market opportunity for the current test and “you should stick to your knitting.” This prompted one of the opinion leaders to ask about the company’s financing and how many tests they were currently performing. Unprepared for this question, the CEO answered that the test volume didn’t really matter since the test was not currently reimbursed!
In our opinion, Company B’s ad board qualified as an ugly ad board where the objectives were not met and the company was not presented in the best light, all of which could have been avoided with more premeeting preparation.