Dr. Terri Phillips, Vice President and Global Head of Medical Affairs at Merz Americas, is building a first-rate medical affairs function to support the fastest growing aesthetics and neuroscience markets in the world. She discusses selecting the right neurotoxin for both aesthetic and therapeutic applications and blending technology with a personal touch to connect with physicians.
Terri L. Phillips, M.D., joined Merz in January 2018 as Vice President and Head of Global Medical Affairs. In this role, she oversees the medical affairs function for the company’s two businesses in medical aesthetics and neurosciences.
Dr. Phillips is widely recognized for her scientific, technical and business innovation expertise and has been in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 15 years. Prior to joining Merz, Dr. Phillips served as Vice President of Global Medical Affairs at Santen where she was responsible for organizational design and build up for the company’s first global medical affairs function. She also worked at Allergan for nine years, assuming increasingly expanded leadership roles. Dr. Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree from Bennett College and a doctor of medicine degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. She is dual board certified in neonatal/prenatal medicine and pediatrics.
Neal Howard: Hello I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you for joining us here on Health Professional Radio. Our guest is Dr. Terri Phillips, she’s joining us today as Vice President and Global Head of Medical Affairs at Merz Americas and does she’s joining us to talk about selecting the right neurotoxin for both aesthetic and therapeutic applications. Welcome to the program Dr. Phillips, thank you so much for taking the time this morning.
Dr. Terri Phillips: Thank you, it’s great to be on this call with you.
Neal: Great. Give us a bit of background about yourself and talk about your position there at Merz.
Dr Phillips: Yeah, so I actually joined marks in January of 2018. I am by training a board-certified pediatrician, board-certified in Neonatology as well and I was in medical practice until about 2015 but joined the pharmaceutical sector in 2002 and has spent my entire career in the pharmaceutical space in medical affairs and so this is my second global role. I came here from the San Francisco Bay Area and my current role is to build a best-in-class global medical affairs organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Neal: You’re very busy to say the least.
Dr Phillips: Yes, I am very busy. Traveling quite a bit.
Neal: Now Merz Americas as you said building medical affairs functions to support aesthetics and neuroscience markets on a worldwide basis. Now when we’re talking about esthetics, cosmetology are we talking plastic surgery?
Dr Phillips: Yeah, it is a good question. So we at Merz have, our focus really is on two main areas – aesthetics as well as neurosciences – and I’ll spend time just answering your first question about aesthetics. So our company is a 110 year old family-owned company and in the space of aesthetics, we are focused on three particular areas. We have product offerings in the injectable space, our lead product being XEOMIN® and that’s used for managing moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds. And then we have devices our lead product in the device portfolio being all therapy and it is a non-invasive skin tightening device, sort of a facelift that’s not surgical. And then finally we have skincare products and our … range is for managing the advanced signs of aging and those products are focused on the skin, the eye area as well as the neck and the décollete. And so really, it’s kind of a mix of but it’s all non-invasive. I wouldn’t call it cosmetology per se but it is really a comprehensive portfolio of injectables, device as well as skin care to manage and treat the signs of aging.
Neal: Now I would assume that there are a lot of physicians, specialists that specialize. How do you get the word out to these specialists about your particular product line, your devices and how do you train them as to the best option for their particular patients?
Dr Phillips: Yeah, so we of course like any commercialized organization, we have a very great sales force that’s out there every day meeting customers but on the medical affairs side, our focus is on medical communication so what is the science that underpins our products in a way that differentiates those and makes them uniquely positioned for the healthcare provider to select our portfolio to address the needs that their patients have in the aesthetics and/or Neuroscience space. And so for medical affairs in particular we’re focused on generating novel research work focused on communicating the unique attributes of the products that we’re offering to healthcare providers. And then we have what we believe is a unique educational offering, we call them the MAC team, they’re our medical aesthetics consultants and these are a team of, these are advanced nurse aesthetic trainers with background and expertise in how to apply the broad portfolio and so they are accessible to healthcare providers who are interested in using our products and re interested in understanding advanced techniques. And then we also have medical science liaisons and these are field scientific representatives who can discuss the scientific underpinnings of our products and our portfolio and answer questions about why choose our products, what are the differentiating attributes that would lead one to select a Merz product.
Neal: Would you say that Merz’s products run the entire spectrum of say textures, skin colors, that sort of thing? I mean being on a worldwide basis, do you think that maybe the diversity of products and devices and how they span that spectrum sets Merz apart from say other companies of similar nature?
Dr Phillips: Yeah, I said I love that question and because you are absolutely right there are differences of demographic differences, skin type differences, everywhere you go around the world and so our goal is always in our trials is to try to enroll a representative group but because we have offices in major markets Asia Pacific in Singapore, for Latin America is Brazil and Argentina and of course in the United States, we feel like we are studying skin types that are representative of a globally diverse demographic and I can say anecdotally we’ve heard for example with our therapy offering, this is our skin tightening non-invasive … ultrasound … that in skin of color for example this is a particularly useful device because unlike some of the other offerings for similar indications, a skin of color does not have this pigmentation related to our therapy device where it might have that with other offerings that are poorly positioned to address skin tightening issues.
Neal: Does your MAC team deal with civilians as well as medical professionals when it comes to say breaking some of the norms that the customer might believe about certain skin care products, certain applications, certain devices based on maybe some erroneous information or information that has not yet been presented?
Dr Phillips: Yeah, so it’s a great question because of course we’re talking about an aesthetic non-medically indicated set of procedures here and consumers definitely demand and want access to information and the MAC team is specifically focused on training the healthcare provider but we do have a very experienced marketing team that focuses its efforts on direct to consumer information. So for example with our lead product XEOMIN® we just recently launched a campaign called Later Haters and the Later Haters campaign is really focused on our main demographic, our main target demographic and that is women who are actually looking to look better, feel better, look better using our products without judgment. So being really unafraid to seek out aesthetic treatment and to ask questions and to have all of the appropriate information to access the portfolio’s product offerings that we have at Merz and to understand specifically what those products can do to help them to achieve their best selves and do that without embarrassment or shame but to really own their desire to improve and enhance their aesthetic outcomes and their best selves and that’s our Later Haters campaign.
Neal: Well thanks so much for joining us on the program this morning Dr. Phillips. I know with just a short period of time just scratching the surface, maybe we can get you back in for some more interviews and talk more about your focus there at Merz and more about some of the non-invasive products that you’re offering, okay?
Dr Phillips: Really appreciate it it’s been great to talk with you today Neal. Thanks.
Neal: Thank you. I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com au