Market Overview

Drug Companies Spend an Average $237,000 per Medical Science Liaison in the United States


US-based drug companies spend an average $237,000 on each of their medical science liaisons (MSLs), but medical device companies spend approximately $32,000 more according to a new study by Cutting Edge Information.

The study, “Managing Medical Science Liaison Teams: Budget, Staffing and Compensation Benchmarks,” found that most pharmaceutical country affiliates typically spend between $158,000 and $237,000 per MSL. In Japan, however, companies spend an average $307,000 per MSL. MSL spending varies between small and large companies, as well. Top 20 pharmaceutical companies, for example, spend an average $241,000 per US MSL. Medical device and diagnostic companies, however, top all other company categories, spending an average $267,000 per MSL across all countries.

“An MSL team's size and whether the company is launching a new product in a particular country will weigh more heavily on how much they spend to support their MSLs,” said Elio Evangelista, director of operations at Cutting Edge Information. “Prior to and during a product launch, MSL team staffing plays a vital role in communicating key clinical information to the medical community.”

Across companies of all sizes, spending on US MSLs is higher than spending in Europe, except for Top 20 companies. The study found that larger companies spend slightly less on US MSLs than those in Germany or the United Kingdom. Companies operating in emerging markets, specifically BRIC countries, pay substantially less to support an MSL than they do for MSLs in the major markets.

“Managing Medical Science Liaison Teams: Budget, Staffing and Compensation Benchmarks( includes detailed data on MSL team budgets, headcounts, structures and compensation packages for liaisons located in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America. The study is designed to help MSL managers and medical affairs organizations:

  • Adjust compensation commensurate with geography and liaison experience.
  • Appropriately staff their MSL teams with top-notch talent.
  • Expand MSL teams into strategic territories.
  • Implement best practices for developing global MSL operations.
  • Overcome globalization challenges by implementing time-tested structural models.

For more information about MSL performance measurement and other benchmarks, contact Stephanie Swanson at 919-403-6583.

Cutting Edge Information
Stephanie Swanson, 919-403-6583

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