2016 MSLA Annual Conference – Report

On Tuesday 22nd March 2016, we hosted our Annual Conference at Park Inn, Heathrow. This was preceded by the AGM: minutes of which can be found here.

The conference attracted a record number of delegates, 128 in total (excluding our expert panel of speakers), which was an incredible example of the growing strength and depth of MSLA awareness and the perceived value of our Annual Conference.

113 delegates were pharma employees representing 39 unique Pharmaceutical Industry companies. Of these 113 delegates, approximately 10% were aspiring MSLs, 50% MSLs, 20% national MSL leads, and 10% international MSL leads. The remaining 15 delegates were representatives of 9 different consultancy companies (e.g. recruitment, service providers, training etc).

Photos from the conference can be found here. Materials which we have permission to share can be found here. We had an excellent and varied panel of speakers throughout the day which started with a thought provoking ‘Perception of Risk’ presentation by Michael Blastland

Michael is a writer, broadcaster and world expert in risk, author of ‘The Norm Chronicles - a guide to personal risk and the statistics that represent it’, and presenter of Radio 4’s ‘The Human Zoo’.  One delegate commented that this ‘was one of the best, most interesting presentations I have heard in 35 years in the industry’.  This was followed by a great presentation on ‘Statistics for MSLs’ from Prof Allan Hackshaw, Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, CRUK Cancer Trials Centre, UCL. Prof Hackshaw focussed his session on two statistical issues in clinical trials, firstly the presentation of interim clinical trial data (which research shows are more likely to be larger than the final ones, when the data are mature enough), and secondly the interpretation of clinical study results with borderline p-values. 

After a networking lunch, Dr Rina Newton, Managing Director of CompliMed Ltd, led a two-hour interactive MSL code hot topic session. The quality of the discussion on case studies was exceptional and overall delegate feedback rated it the most relevant and useful session of the day (86% rating the session 5 out of 5 or ‘excellent’).  We also committed to provide top level summarises of key considerations for each of the case studies presented and discussed and this will follow in due course. 

The final expert speaker of the conference was Prof Fitzpatrick, Clinical Director of Pharmacy at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Prof Fitzpatrick gave an insightful tour of the evolving NHS, particularly focusing on changes in NHS structure, funding flows and how hospitals and local health economies consider non-NICE evaluated medicines.   

We closed the 2016 Annual Conference by gauging delegate interest in reading and contributing to an MSLA Journal. 90% of delegates said that if the MSLA were to produce a journal, they would find it valuable and read it. Delegates suggested a frequency of between 3 and 6 monthly, and 36 delegates e-mailed the MSLA suggesting topics of interest for the journal. Encouragingly 20 delegates also stated their willingness to write an article for the journal. There will be much more to follow on this exciting topic over the coming weeks and month.

In order the continually improve the MSLA offering to our membership, we asked delegates to complete feedback forms and 66% did so (85 of 128). Delegate feedback was based on a slides scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being poor, and 5 being excellent. 95% rated the overall organisation 4 or 5 out of 5 and 94% rated the overall education experience 4 or 5 out of 5. Clearly the MSLA Committee are thrilled at both the record breaking attendance of the 2016 Annual Conference and the very positive delegate feedback. Whilst we are pleased we also received some incredibly important constructive feedback which we will endeavour to address at future conferences (e.g. venue location, parking, lunch directions, size and temperature of the room, networking time, speed and limited number of coffee machines). 

The MSLA committee would like to say a huge thank you for your support and active engagement during the 2016 Annual Conference. Please look out for future communications about the MSLA Journal, 2016 ‘How To’ courses, the first of which, ‘MSLs and the Code’ by Dr Nick Broughton of ‘Green Bear Medical Ltd’ will take place on Monday 23rd May at the ABPI offices in central London, and further follow-up from the MSL Code session by Dr Rina Newton. 

We will leave you with a selection of free text comments from delegate feedback forms:

What was the best aspect of this event?

  • Great and varied programme, well thought out topics and excellent speakers.
  • Statistics were unbelievable, Prof Hackshaw is a genius.
  • Perception of risk - extremely informative and entertaining. 
  • Rina Newton was fantastic 
  • I am a new MSL, therefore Rina Newton and Stats was brilliant.

Question:  What impact will this event have on your future delivery of the MSL/MSL lead role?

  • More convinced to become an MSL, currently an aspiring MSL. I have more insight in to the role and feel better equipped for the interview. Sharpened my skills and competencies in delivering better value.
  • CPD and great ‘code in practice’ info and debate. Clarity around ABPI clauses versus company SOPs. Good for internal discussions on the MSL activities. I’ll think carefully about field activities, how to evaluate risk and ensure documentation and evidence in place.
  • Confidence is discussing statistics with HCPs
  • Communication and evaluation of risk. Encouraged me to think how I ‘frame’ data.
  • Hope to attend the 2016 ‘How To’ courses. Will promote MSLA to colleagues.

Thanks for your continued support as the MSLA strive to provide a common platform in the UK and Ireland to drive compliance, value, credibility and sustainability of the MSL role.



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