What is a Medical Science Liaison(MSL)?

The MSL is a field-based therapeutic specialist employed by pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Usually MSLs are organized under the medical affairs unit which are responsible for scientific exchanges with the clinical community.


The primary purpose of the MSL role is: 
  • To act as a liaison to exchange therapeutic information between the Medical community in the therapeutic Area  in which they work (i.e. Cardiology, Diabetology, Oncology etc) and the company.
  • Most important function of MSL role remains to establish and maintain peer to peer relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (KOL's) in their therapeutic areas.
  • To be scientific or disease state experts for internal colleagues (sales and marketing)  

The role of Medical Science Liaison may be referred by some other names like Medical Advisor, Medical Affairs Manager and Medico Marketing Manager. Usually they are all the same, but in some companies the reporting structure may vary with the name of the role. There may be a singular reporting just to the Medical Affairs function or a dual reporting to both Medical Affairs and Marketing function. A singular reporting structure is always more comfortable to work with.

The role can be target driven or non target driven. Ideally a non targeted approach is the right approach and a ethical one also; since the job involves interaction of two medical professionals for exchange of genuine unbiased scientific information and not just an opportunistic approach to generate sales.
Educational and Aptitude requirements
  • M.B.B.S. / MD Medicine/MD Pharmacology
  • At least 1 - 2 years experience in clinical practice or in pharmaceutical industry.
  • Understanding of clinical trial design & methodology.
  • Analytical skills & reasoning
  • Good communication skills
Activities performed by a MSL
  • Provide a Medical/Clinical/Pharmacist interpretation of current and newly emerging product
  • Participates/ Facilitates/ Conducts Customer launch meetings, Advisory boards, CME programs, Scientific symposia, Institutional presentations, etc
  • Marketing and Sales Support
  • Sales force training
  • Medical Writing
Why you would want to be a Medical Science Liaison?
  • You are interested in a Non-clinical career after MBBS
  • You want to be a part of new drug launch activities and to develop an understanding of the pharmaceutical industry
  • Opportunity to work in corporate environment with good work culture
  • Opportunity to meet some top experts in the country
  • Get a exposure across wide variety of Healthcare institutions across the country.
Why you would not want to be a Medical Science Liaison?
  • Field based job
  • Lots of travel (10-18 days a month, fully sponsored)
Job Location and Average MSL salary in India
The hiring is usually done for a particular region (Eg Western India, Southern India, Northern India, Eastern India etc) with base in one of the prominent cities in the region. The MSL is expected to travel across the region for scientific information exchange and promotional activities. Usually the jobs are based in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi and Hyderabad as they also happen to be business hubs for various pharmaceutical companies. The average salary for Medical Science Liaison profile in India ranges from Rs. 8 to 12 LPA for 0 to 2 years of experience.

4 Comments

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  2. I'm biologist in italy and I'm msl for a US big pharma. Before now I was a rep for the same company. Here we don't pay the KOLs and they're quite easy to meet. For more interesting information click here.

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  3. The role of MSL is SUPPOSED to be identical across the globe, however in India, there are significant obstacles; Scientific exchange is minimal due to lack of ongoing research, and duties such as organizing Investigator Initiated Trials are non-existent. Another difference (as noted in this article) is that the base qualification is equivalent to possessing an M.D. (i.e., M.B.B.S.), while in NA and Europe, many Ph.D.s are able to ably fill the role. This difference is likely a product of the Ph.D. system not being as prevalent in India (relatively) + the emphasis on knowledge that only medical training would provide -- a by-product of the lack of fundamental science-related research, which would ostensibly be discussed by a Ph.D. level MSL. Overall, it's doctors talking to much more senior doctors, and most of the time getting very little in the way of collegial respect. India is a different market, thus the vast differences. Word of warning -- your daily routine will resemble a glorified sales rep. Get ready to wait for hours (with said sales reps) to see a KOL. Not to say it's not an interesting role - just a departure from its Western counterpart. (Samuel seems to allude to that.)

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  4. the role of HR is to plan for the roles that the company needs- to identify talent and provide the resources necessary to help people develop.

    success with good planning

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