Leading with purpose, integrity and quality The Medicines Company


In the mid 1990’s, Clive Meanwell and a group of his esteemed colleagues convened a gathering in Cambridge, Massachusetts to talk about the troubled pharmaceutical industry. They framed an industry “weighed down by huge ballast … requiring new knowledge, tools and skills” and needing to shed operational ballast. In short, in order to serve its true purpose and continue to innovate, the industry would need to redeploy its vast resources in ways it had not previously contemplated. The Medicines Company was born out of this meeting and spent the next 20+ years staying true to its purpose “ saving lives, alleviating suffering and contributing to the economics of healthcare,” while reinventing itself from time to time as its choices lead it in new directions.

Donovan/Green had worked with Richard Saul Wurman, Dr. Meanwell and Dr. Helmut Giersiefen at Hoffman-La Roche,” creating an expert system centered around streamlining and systemizing the drug development process, organized by the key questions of drug development.

It was many years later when the Meanwell reached back out to Donovan/Green as MDCO was contemplating the approval of an unprecedented number of new drugs and needed the systems thinking it would require to bring order and efficiency to the company as well as a coherent identity. It was expanding from one key drug in cardiovascular care in the hospital to many across several pathways of care – infectious disease and surgical and perioperative care. The work that follows showcases the depth and breadth of design discipline and thought processes touching each and every stakeholder from inside the company to the farthest point of contact with any and all of its products and solutions.

In its most recent chapter, MDCO has experienced its most dramatic transformation yet. In early 2018, the company transformed itself from the multi-product hospital medicine small pharma company into a biotech developing one drug based on Nobel prize winning science – RNA interference (or reversible gene therapy). If approved by the regulatory authorities, it will have the opportunity to eradicate atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, a disease which kills more people by far than any other on earth. Not only is the drug itself extraordinary, but its development team is committed to human centric solutions which bring value to patients, to the healthcare system and society (by being well priced) as well as its shareholders who make drug development possible.

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Many brands become one

The Medicines Company brand system

In 2012, The Medicines Company found itself in need of change. In preparation for Angiomax’s loss of exclusivity, its senior team had worked diligently to expand its portfolio of products. As products were acquired and the company expanded into new pathways of care in the hospital, the need to stay true to its core values was never more important. The mission was to root the company in a brand that reflected its moral and ethical standards, belief in science and the diverse thinking, working, and acting that was at the foundation of its culture. Using clean classic typography, a solid structural foundation and a formula for the purposeful use of color to differentiate three care pathways and nine solutions, the new MDCO identity was born.

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Commercial solutions

The new brand unified all products across the company’s expanding pipeline through a systematic approach that would pass through the culture of the corporate mark while harmonizing the suite of products. Most importantly, this system allowed for the efficient branding of nine new products, for the cost of little more than one.

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Development solutions

D.E.S.I.GN workshops

To cultivate a deeper understanding of the value of design and to support internal adherence and advocacy of the new systematic approaches inherent in the new branding, a group of creative thinkers and doers was gathered into a new group, the D.E.S.I.GN office. (D.E.S.I.GN = Design. Education. Strategy. Information. Global Networks) Workshops were designed and launched for internal leaders and influencers in order to make them brand champions through shared insight on how and why the design for the brand was developed and how to employ design principles in their day-to-day activities. Attendees experienced educational presentations as well as demonstrations of the templates and tools being launched. Participants would then be certified advocates and teachers of the new system, with a shared understanding of its value and purpose.

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Culture driven by purpose and inspired by values

Excerpts from Richard R. Ellsworth’s Leading with Purpose 2002

Lead with Purpose

Planning for growth and managing change take discipline, understanding and commitment from employees to actualize lasting change. Workshops, programs, processes and tools were designed to help instill the values of The Medicines Company and engage employees worldwide in new thinking, established policies and ways of working. “Lead With Purpose” connected teams across the company in a global meeting complete with live discussions, presentations, interviews, live-polling and participant interaction.

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User Guide

Lead with Purpose User Guide and completion certificate

The User Guide is the company’s resource for culture and values, distributed to all employees and frequently updated. It included guiding documents like the “Innovation Framework,” the company’s “Core Values” and “Principles of Meeting Best Practices.”

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct brochure

“The Global Code of Conduct and Ethics”, given to each employee, was redesigned to be an easily accessible and inviting reference, meant to be kept handy and given out freely.


QuESt stands for “Quality, Ethics and Standards.” It is the gathering that invites MDCO employees to take two days and, through carefully constructed small group workshop sessions, to think about ideas critical to those employed in scientific discovery and delivering human-centric solutions to others. In short, it was designed to ensure that MDCO employees understood what it means to innovate with integrity. Workshops were designed to deliver the deepest meaning of the company’s Core Values and explore their lineage of moral and philosophical principles. Sessions also explored shaping science, ethical underpinnings of decision-making, the importance of law and the regulatory code.

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QuEST invitation/teaser video
Quality video sinppet

Project Management Mastery

The Project Management Mastery program was launched to foster high productivity by teaching teams to collaborate in project planning, design and organization setting well defined goals and major deliverables and being accountable to time and resource management. PMM sessions would become the foundational process that would guide all teamwork within The Medicines Company.

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Information design

We harnessed the power of information graphics to help illustrate several big ideas within the company, including corporate structure, budget strategy and the drug launch process.

A platform for learning and engaging

The Medicines Company education platform is comprised of 4 building blocks applicable to all internal and external educational programs. They foster the production of content that is relevant, stimulating, fulfills an

unmet educational need and is delivered in an understandable and accessible format.

The Lab experience

The Lab Experience

Education and continued learning for all employees to cultivate their innovative spirit is a core value of The Medicines Company. Built into the global headquarters, the Lab is a state-of-the-art hospital simulation center complete with a cardiothoracic and general operating theater, interventional cardiology suite, emergency department and other critical care venues. It serves as a venue for demonstration and learning for MDCO solutions and competitor products, a platform for ideation and discussion and has even appeared as the backdrop of a few major feature films. The entry to the Lab serves to stimulate a visitor’s appetite for learning about big ideas that form the basis of the company’s purpose - saving lives, alleviating suffering, and contributing to the economics of healthcare.

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The Lab Booklet

Investor & Analyst days

Investor and Analysts day examples

Communicating the value of the company and its mission, the progress on its ventures and future plans is never more scrutinized than when speaking to the financial industry. Investor and Analysts Days endeavor to execute the difficult, but important task of translating science, technology, process and behavior choices for a group of people who do not speak necessarily that language. Through carefully crafted presentations designed with the this audience in mind, MDCO presenters tell their stories through simple highly crafted narratives. Every detail of the participants’ experience is considered in making a day or a few hours that are engaging and enlightening.

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Conference participation is key to communicating MDCO’s science, sharing latest developments and offerings to the scientific community through presentations of new data, special events and symposia and branded and unbranded booth experiences, designed to encourage conversation and communication.

Infectious Disease Week 2017 (ID Week)

The 2017 ID Week conference was an important event for the infectious disease pathway of The Medicines Company, as it was launching its newest drug Vabomere. The booth design featured the new Vabomere brand, harmoniously incorporated with the existing Orbactiv and Minocin brands. Surrounding LED screens highlighted the bacteria profiles for which each solution was indicated, in a captivating carousel of bold graphics and subtle metaphors. Touch screens offered visitors a deeper perspective on each solution including complete indications, background data and safety information.

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IONSYS® REMS and TANGO III Infographic

IONSYS® REMS and TANGO III infographic

Learning extends through all aspects of the company’s activities, information graphics being a tried and true way to communicate complicated processes and procedures to learners at all levels.
Graphics simplified the daunting IONSYS® Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program and eased the challenge of identifying and enrolling HVAP and VABP patients into the TANGO III clinical trial.

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Transformation – from pharma to biotech

The Medicines Company: Next Chapter

MDCO anticipated the loss of the Angiomax patent and acquired technologies in all stages of development to fill the commercial void. One, licensed from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals emerged as a profound antagonist in tackling the number one killer of humans by disease globally – atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The drug was based on Nobel prize winning science, RNAi, and was called inclisiran.

The ORION Project, built around the development of this product, was a movement that brought together the best minds in cardiology, drug development, manufacturing, market access and value. The team, founded by MDCO and including able partners, was comprised of proven-effective companies, global leaders, thinkers and doers. Their purpose was to reverse the deadly progression of cardiovascular atheroma. A lofty goal since most people (about 17 million per year) die of coronary artery disease. It is a goal that, when achieved, will make a powerful difference to the healthcare system… and in the lives of millions.

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The ORION Project brand system

Big ideas are one thing, but executing them requires a carefully designed plan for action and transparency through the team. This new project was branded with an identity system that went beyond the visual and which united all teams working on the project. The brand extended through all communications and was reinforced by the transparent messaging, clarity of content and strived to make data and science understandable. We affected the presentations to encourage legibility, and clarified forms for the study teams, making them easy to follow and simple to use. Every instance of the project was considered another example of its integrity, designed to be at the highest standard.

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The ORION Project portal

The portal was built to serve The ORION Project community with basic resources, study specific dashboards, calendars and a rich editorial calendar.

The ORION Project Coalition

Coalition Package

The ORION Project Coalition is comprised of diverse experts, industry leaders and collaborators, unshakeable in ambition, expectation and commitment. Members of the coalition are recruited because of their personal and professional interest in the mission and their willingness to collaborate to achieve this shared vision.

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Investigator meetings

Investigator meetings are a standard for all clinical trials. Every part of the meeting was designed to be understandable and foster important relationship building. From the lead-in music to the interspersed presentation visuals, the meetings felt more like a TED conference then a stodgy protocol review. The multiple opportunities to discuss questions and concerns had the study teams leaving invigorated with the knowledge provided and pumped up to recruit patients.

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Information graphics

Information graphics are used throughout to project to clarify and communicate everything from project plans and timelines to scientific concepts and manufacturing processes.

Change management


Nancye and MDCO CEO Clive Meanwell discuss a pivotal moment of change for the company

“It’s not enough to say we care about patients and our range of other important stakeholders—we must show it in all our actions. In an ever-changing global environment, delivering authentic healthcare innovation is more challenging and complex than ever. Knowing how to do the right thing every time is not easy. We are often faced with diverse cultural challenges, scientific uncertainties, medical dilemmas and legal requirements unique to our functional or geographic responsibilities. But in the face of such complexity, we must maintain the highest standards of moral, ethical, quality and professional conduct, while celebrating our diversity of thinking, working and acting.”

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