Is This the End of the Line for KOLs?

Rich Doctor

By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

Recently Ed Silverman noted on the In Vivo blog that doctors may be banned by their employing hospitals by accepting stock. This makes sense, in one way – of course, it’ll remove any worry about stock as a financial incentive clouding their professional judgements. But, on the other hand, if they serve on the board of a company, shouldn’t they be personally invested in the success of the company, in order to make the best possible decisions?

There may also be a salary cap, notes a spokesperson from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

This is a very interesting road we’re moving down, because it may result in a sea change.

The industry now functions by spending a lot of time and money to curry the favor and opinions of “key opinion leaders” – the very top physicians in a speciality.

These new rules may broaden that pool. If doctors can take fewer additional positions, fewer additional payments – there will be more physicians making less money. There will less frequently be a tiny elite of extremely well paid, well connected doctors.

This reflects a trend toward fiscal transparency, of course. But it’s reflective, too, of a broader trend toward the wisdom of many instead of the crowned elite. And this goes hand in hand with the societal shift that social media has created in our culture.

Social media decrees that opinions are equal. I can get a tweet about the pharma industry from John Mack, Scott Hensley, Oprah Winfrey, or my colleague down the hall. Andthey all look exactly the same. They just roll in in chronological order. Nobody’s is more or less prominent. They’re just parts of the information stream that I’ve created for myself. It’s up to me to decide how much credence I want to give to each piece of information.

So, given this new world, what do you think? Are “opinion leaders” passe?

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