Scientific communication platforms (SCPs): for a clear, consistent, compelling product narrative
How can a strategic communication plan for a pharmaceutical product ensure accurate, consistent language and referencing is used throughout all communication activities and by functional teams? …When it’s an SCP.
For a new product, the ideal time to develop an SCP is during the late stages of Phase II trials, as it may help define the Phase III clinical programme. It could also ensure that even early publications communicate a coherent narrative.
For later stage products, an SCP can highlight existing data gaps. If the product is part of a franchise or has multiple indications, an integrated SCP is critical to ensure that there are no inconsistencies in communication across products or indications.
Four main components shape an SCP.
- Pillars provide the framework and prioritise the story flow. Common pillars include disease area, mechanism of action, efficacy, safety and value, but others can be added to reflect the key differentiating features of the product.
- An objective is linked to each pillar, to describe the desired strategic outcome; then one or two core scientific statements define clear, coordinated communication points.
- Evidence statements, fully referenced, support each core statement and delve into the granular detail – essential for an accurate and scientifically robust platform.
- A lexicon provides a uniform vocabulary for the product to be used across all communications.
The aim of the SCP is to underpin future communications across cross-functional teams. So, hearing a wide range of voices, across all relevant functions, early in development is key. Typically, Medical Affairs, Clinical Development, Competitor Intelligence, Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Market Access, Drug Safety, Regulatory Affairs, Medical Information and Patient Advocacy will all be consulted on the central statements of the product.
This early-stage involvement can help identify any lack of alignment among stakeholders and prevent disparity later in development when statements have already been established.
Commercial and Marketing may be involved at an early stage to aid understanding of the product challenges but should not be involved in developing the scientific statements – key marketing messages are developed separately by the Commercial teams.
Informal interviews or perception audits can be a great way of recording the thoughts of stakeholders and serve as a starting point for pillar and statement development. Several smaller meetings will enable stakeholders to voice their opinions and discuss their thoughts in more detail.
Existing resources for the product – such as strategic documents, medical plans, and regulatory filing documents – should also be considered when developing an SCP. These should be rigorously assessed for alignment.
Once the core scientific statements have begun to take shape it is often valuable to regroup with stakeholders in a workshop to ensure the narrative is on the right track. This can unearth any other thoughts missed in the perception audits or shifts in emphasis. Alignment among functional teams on the central narrative is critical to gain support for the SCP and will aid in the successful rollout.
A well-designed workshop will result in a consensus among stakeholders on a set of core statements or, at the very least, a clear path in this direction.
A structured rollout, featuring launch activities and internal training, will ensure the SCP is used correctly and position it as the key guidance document for the product. Digital formats will ensure maximum accessibility. Each functional team will need to determine how best to integrate the SCP into their communication activities to ensure consistency.
Finally, an effective SCP should be a living document, updated in response to changes in the therapeutic landscape, such as new product or competitor data, or updated guidelines. This is where a digital format can really be valuable, allowing seamless and timely updates to the SCP without the need for frequent re-distribution of static documents.
While the development of an SCP may initially seem daunting, with good planning, collaboration among functional teams and scientific accuracy it can be a strong foundation for a successful product. If you want to find out more about how Bioscript can help support your teams and projects, please do get in touch.