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Keywords:

  • education;
  • ethics;
  • industry

ABSTRACT

Key opinion leaders (KOLs), also known as thought leaders, are the experts in their field upon whom we depend for original research leading to disease understanding and new therapies. We rely on them to write the articles, author the textbooks, and give the presentations that we absorb to become better dermatologists. KOLs have become intimately entwined with the marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, used not only to lend credibility to claims of efficacy and safety but also to promote anecdotal and off-label use of these medications to increase industry profits. Identification and marketing of the KOLs themselves is being done more and more often by KOL management companies who are hired by industry to turn those involved in medical education and research into efficient and productive members of the sales force.