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September 17, 2010
The Life of a Key Opinion Leader
Here's an uncomplimentary look at the whole concept of "Key Opinion Leaders" in drug marketing. I think this part gets at the real reason many people agree to do this (and a lot of other things besides):
"It strokes your narcissism," says Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University. There is the money, of course, which is no small matter. Some high-level KOL's make more money consulting for the pharmaceutical industry than they get from their academic institutions. But the real appeal of being a KOL is that of being acknowledged as important. That feeling of importance comes not so much from the pharmaceutical companies themselves, but from associating with other academic luminaries that the companies have recruited. Academic physicians talk about the experience of being a KOL the way others might talk about being admitted to a selective fraternity or an exclusive New York dance club. No longer are you standing outside the rope trying to catch the doorman's eye, waiting hungrily to be admitted. You are one of the chosen.
Although, as the piece makes clear, it's more about the life of not-quite-key opinion leaders. As with every club, there are inner rooms and outer rooms. . .
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