Interview – Timothy Low, Covidien – Medical Affairs Leaders Forum Asia 2014
By NextLevel Life Sciences - March 26, 2014

Leading up to NextLevel Pharma’s 2nd Annual Medical Affairs Leaders Forum Asia, we are conducting email interviews with selected members of our prestigious speaker panel to learn more about their thoughts on this vital issue.

*Opinions below are those only of the individual and do not reflect upon corporate strategy or positioning. For more information regarding NextLevel Pharma’s Medical Affairs Leaders Forum Asiaclick here.

Timothy Low, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Asia Pacific, Covidien

NLP: What do you think makes the current medical affairs environment in Asia Pacific so challenging for pharmaceutical & medical device companies?

Timothy Low: Let me touch on Medical Devices, as compared to Pharmaceuticals. The Medical Devices companies are just realizing in the past couple of years the importance of having a medical affairs function to assist with enhancing the business in Asia Pacific. In the past, it was mainly sales and marketing doing all market development and evidence based medicine. The current environment necessitates a great deal more of locally generated evidence and local regulatory requirements for market access. Hence, a well-structured and well-resourced Medical Affairs function is invariably warranted if an accelerated growth is the vision for Asia Pacific.

NLP: Which trends have you seen on the ways in which the pharma & biotech sector approach KOLS and stakeholders in the APAC region over the past 5 years?

Timothy Low: There has been many different approaches by companies in KOL engagement in the past. Many have done it in the traditional way without much pre-planning and in an ad-hoc basis depending on the needs of marketing. A well-structured framework for KOL engagement acceptable to the business has not been put in place in many companies in Asia Pacific. KOL development in terms of categorization and segmentation is currently the trend. Action planning for KOLs is needed and has to be embraced by all relevant functions in a company to be effective.

NLP: How much do you think the medical affairs & MSL roles in the pharma & device sector are increasing their influence?

Timothy Low: In the Pharma sector, Medical Affairs and MSLs are well established in the mindset of management in terms of the roles and contribution to the business. In the Device sector, it is still an internal education as well as external HCPs communication as to the benefits that the Medical Affairs and MSL can bring to enhance the business and the science that is needed for compliance and regulatory requirements.

NLP: What’s the best thing for you about working in medical affairs right now?

Timothy Low: Medical Affairs is in its pioneering stage for most Medical Device companies. If one has the background and experience in the Pharma sector and brings it to the Device sector, it would be shortening the learning curve and bringing accelerated know-how to the business.

NLP: Why is this Asia Pacific Medical Affairs Leaders Forum event a good idea for people to attend in your eyes?

Timothy Low:Asia Pacific Medical Affairs Leaders Forum now brings together the complete group of Pharma, Biotech and Medical Device personnel together in a room to bench mark and share best practices. This is the fastest way to gain knowledge and learn from the best what has been working well and what mistakes to avoid. The time and place is conducive and appropriate for networking and branding.