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  • Writer's pictureSAKS MedComms Team

Medical Communication Strategy: The Importance of a Publication Plan

A pencil in a sketched format symbolizes the importance of publication planning in medical communications strategies

As one of the most important elements of a medical communication strategy, we perceive a company’s publication plan as the nucleus from which all else is cultivated. Whether an asset is in early or later phase development, or whether your audience reach is global or regional, your publication plan is the living document that will serve as the basis for dissemination of your scientific and clinical data.

Your publication plan will provide education and awareness to target audiences regarding a new drug or new indication. It essentially becomes your road map, one that can be evolved when new insights and data become available and when/if the landscape advances. In our experience, plans are generally revised and updated annually but can be updated more or less frequently depending on individual circumstances.

Because publication plans tend to form the foundation of both a new drug’s entry into the market and its acceptance and growth in clinical practice, the planning process usually begins early in the product lifecycle. It is important to recognize that once a plan is developed and approved, publication development and journal/congress acceptance timing tends to be long and extended.

We suggest that the planning process start about 2-3 years before launch, potentially during Phase I/II trials. On occasion, we will recommend an earlier start such as if the product is a new molecule, has a new mechanism of action, or if the plan is for a disease state where there is limited research.

A publication plan’s structure will vary depending on content and scope as well as individual pharma company style preferences, but they generally contain many of the same elements. Most importantly, we are vigilant about making sure plans are compliant with Good Publication Practices (GPP3), keeping in mind that this plan is not the same as a marketing or medical communications plan, just a subset of it.

As far as approach to plan development, typically at SAKS Health, we start with an in-depth landscape assessment looking at the disease state, unmet need, and current and upcoming therapeutic regimens before getting into more specific information about a company’s new asset. We ensure that the plan’s content aligns with the company’s overarching medical strategy and that it not only raises awareness of any unmet needs, but also increases disease state understanding while keeping in mind clinical practice implications.

The developed plan must address all stakeholders and consider various activation channels. A general shift in how and where HCPs access their information has impacted the way we identify appropriate content placements. We find we must evaluate a multitude of channels (traditional, digital, social media) depending on the target audience.

Commonly included plan elements are some or all of the following strategic and tactical components:

Commonly included publication plan elements listed in a table format

Tactically, all congress activities and journal publication recommendations for the upcoming 12-18 months are included. Tables of key Congress events and journal details are added, often as an appendix.

The development of a comprehensive publication plan is a complex undertaking and must include both internal and external stakeholders. Our role is to partner closely with client teams to ensure consistency and transparency throughout the process. By following GPP3 and working closely with all stakeholders we can produce plans that not only meet client strategic goals but also provide valuable information to all audiences to enable a Better Healthcare Tomorrow™.


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