PMSA Member Spotlight: Bill Coyle and Cindie Dilley

This month, PMSA's member spotlight focuses on the two winning co-presenters awarded the Best Podium Presentation award at the 2016 PMSA Annual Conference — Bill Coyle, ZS Associates, and Cindie Dilley, UCB, for their talk on "Epilepsy Outcome Drivers". We asked Bill and Cindie about their history with PMSA, and their thoughts on the future of the industry.

PMSA: How many years have you been in the industry?
Bill: Twelve years, since I joined ZS in 2004.
Cindie: Sixteen years.

PMSA:What attracted you to the field?
Bill: My educational background was in engineering, so analytics was a natural area for me. My professional background was in sales & marketing, so the combination is a good fit. At the time I joined, I wasn’t focused on pharma, but rather on sales & marketing analytics; it just happened that ZS’ focus was in pharma.
Cindie: I had already done some epidemiology work out of undergrad for a payer and had a grant from a local government to analyze the cost and benefit of healthcare resources in psychiatry. Upon exiting graduate school with a degree in economics, the alignment made sense. I briefly left the field to work as a macroeconomist for Equifax, but I didn’t stay long. An old colleague called to try and bring me back to pharma – I couldn’t wait to get back to feeling like I was helping to change lives in some way.

PMSA: How did you first hear about PMSA, and how many PMSA conferences have you attended?
Bill: I heard about the association through ZS’ participation in PMSA. I've attended 4 - 5 conferences. I've attended 4 - 5 conferences.
Cindie: My boss at my first job in pharma told me about PMSA. He said it would be a good way to learn about what analysis was being done in the industry. I attended my first conference in 2000 – I think it was in Orlando at the Animal Kingdom. I missed a few years when I changed jobs but other than that have been every year. In fact it is my favorite organization. I loved it so much I joined the board!

PMSA: What did you enjoy the most about this year’s conference, besides your own presentation?
Bill: I enjoy the conference because it lets me connect with lots of folks in a few different categories: clients – both ones I work with, and ones that work with other teams at ZS; ZS alumni – many of our alums work in marketing science in manufacturer organizations, so it is great to reconnect; and other service providers. It is always good to meet other folks that serve the industry, and understand their perspectives.
Cindie: I love innovation in technique, actually getting to see the equations in presentations, and new data sources. I especially enjoyed the discussion on deep learning and its application to health care. It’s a difficult topic when applied to data – it is too “black box” for many clinicians to feel comfortable with the approach.

PMSA: How was the experience to present in front of the PMSA audience? Any advice for future presenters?
Bill: As a consultant, I present all the time … PMSA is just a bigger audience with a bigger screen! Advice? Be ready for tough questions from Igor Rudychev and JP Tsang.
Cindie: I actually love hard questions – the harder the better. Some of my favorite moments are when I get asked something and I don’t know the answer – it means I am learning. I appreciate comments from long standing members of the organization engaged in trying to make us all better. The audience is very friendly and warm. My advice would be to focus on the specifics of what we are doing to make change and improve our profession. Generalities are so hard to implement and often don’t result in any action from others.

PMSA: What are some current projects you are excited about?
Bill: Most of my work is in Market Access & Pricing – so I am enjoying some current projects related to how various pathways and value frameworks will shape management of Oncology brands in the future.
Cindie: We are working on trying to predict that a patient will be refractory to the whole suite of epilepsy drugs when they take their very first drug. This is really important to patients because about a third of patients at any given time are having uncontrolled seizures. Each seizure increases the likelihood of further seizures or even sudden death. Information that a patient will be refractory up front could save years of a patient circling the system uncontrolled, lots of health care costs from ER visits, and reduced risk because the patient could be treated much more aggressively. We are leveraging deep learning techniques or artificial intelligence – our best model so far is a recurrent neural network.

PMSA: Do you have any predictions for the future?
Bill: As data proliferates and biopharma marketing becomes even more competitive, marketing science can be even more of a competitive advantage. However, this also means marketing scientists need to develop their skills to better understand the business context to frame their analytics and better support executive decision-making.
Cindie: The industry cannot continue to manage spiraling healthcare costs indefinitely. Technological and scientific innovation will serve to alleviate some of the burden through behavioral change, disease modification and prevention, and alternative intervention options. Nonetheless, there will still be much pressure on cost. One of the best ways to impact this is to manage risk better (i.e., ensuring the use of a medical intervention will result in a positive outcome) to remove wasted resources in the system. In our industry the use of analytics to precisely estimate risk through predictive response (currently) is appallingly small relative to the amount of data we sit on. I suspect that the ability to predict response to any drug or intervention will continue to improve dramatically even outside the realm of genetic markers in oncology.

PMSA: What are your hobbies outside of pharma analytics?
Bill: I like to travel, spend time with my family, read, and watch sports (Ravens, Orioles & Terps).
Cindie: I love to travel – my husband and I have been to the Galapagos Islands, Australia and New Zealand, and Alaska in the last few years. I even take an annual girls trip to a warm destination. I also love golfing, ice skating, gardening, and cooking.

PMSA Members: Login and click here to download their award-winning 2016 PMSA conference presentation.