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Key opinion leaders (KOLs) can be an extraordinary source of information to better understand key unmet needs in a specific disease, validate a potential new therapy or gauge willingness to pay for a potential product. Talking to the right person will substantially increase your chances of getting the answers you expect. This is an important step, likely to be time-consuming, but certainly worth it. Before starting outreach to KOLs, some preparation will help you find the most valuable experts.

1. Determine a distinct profile

First, based on your objectives consider if one KOL profile is enough or if different types of profiles are needed. If you want to validate the potential of a new drug, for instance, you might want to talk to prescribing physicians. A few useful questions to consider are: Do you need someone with relevant clinical practice? How important is clinical trial experience? Do you need a KOL with a research focus? What is the geographical scope of interest? Those answers will help form one, or several, KOL profiles suitable to get the ‘right’ information.

2. Utilize the right sources

Our go-to sources include specialized KOL platforms with global databases of all information one could think of being relevant. If only looking at public sources, we’d suggest trying clinicaltrials.gov for people with clinical trial experience (look for principal investigators in relevant studies!) and treatment guidelines when in need of people providing an opinion on a new therapy (check the authors!). Some KOL profiles are easier to find than others so the tools needed to find the right KOLs really depend on your key objectives and identified KOL profile(s).

3. Find the contact information

The most frequent form of contact is via email; however, it could be tricky to find email addresses from public sources. A good starting point is the organization they are affiliated with; occasionally there are expert profiles with direct contact information on the website. You could be in luck if the KOL is a contact person for a study or publication, so the email address is available right on clinicaltrials.gov or respective journal. An alternative could also be to just guess the email based on the email address format of the specific institution, it works surprisingly often. More recently, our team has also had good success using InMail through LinkedIn.

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Our team has experience with KOL interviews across many different indications and has a few tricks up our sleeves. Our sweet spot is where life science and business meet.

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