PM360’s Trailblazer Awards recognize 10 Companies of the Year, a Gold and Silver winner in each of our five categories: Pharmaceutical/Biotech, Medical Device/Diagnostics, Specialty Pharma/Biotech, Advertising Agency, and Supplier/Vendor. Winners included Novartis as the Gold Pharma Winner, DIABNEXT LLC as the Gold Medical Device/Diagnostics Winner, and Strongbridge Biopharma as the Gold Specialty Pharma Winner. As always, we evaluate these companies not just on their bottom line, but their achievement in three key areas: Innovation, talent development/retention, and social/corporate responsibility.

Gold Winner: Pharma/Biotech

Novartis is a global healthcare company based in Switzerland, with U.S. Headquarters in East Hanover, NJ, that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide. The company strives to discover new ways to improve and extend people’s lives.

With more than 200 projects in clinical development, Novartis is consistently rated as one of the most respected pharmaceutical companies. In 2016, Novartis received five breakthrough therapy designations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Innovation

  • Novartis’ R&D efforts build on more than a century of innovation in medical science. For instance, 35 years ago they introduced the first immunosuppressant helping to make transplantation a reality.
  • In 2001, they introduced Gleevec, a life-changing medicine that has helped transform Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from a once fatal condition into a manageable disease. Today, nine out of 10 CML patients have a near normal lifespan.
  • Novartis is a pioneer of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy, which involves drawing T-Cells from an individual’s own blood and reprogramming them to attack cancerous cells.
  • Because new understanding of our immune system has made it such a rapidly evolving area of research, Novartis has invested in their immuno-oncology (IO) research program, sending seven investigational IO medicines to clinical trials in 2016.

Talent Development

  • Novartis offers a wide variety of professional and leadership development programs. The company is committed to providing programs that enable associates to build skills, increase their knowledge, and acquire tools they need to excel within an increasingly competitive marketplace.
  • In addition, the organization is committed to supporting the health and well-being of our employees—and strives to create an inclusive, flexible workplace culture that encourages innovative ways of working. For example, eligible employees may choose to take advantage of programs such as Be Healthy fitness education campaigns, as well as individual and team-based challenges designed to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Social Responsibility

  • Through the Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation Inc., Novartis provides medicines at no cost to eligible U.S. patients experiencing financial hardship who have limited or no prescription drug coverage.
  • In 2016, the Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation Inc. provided more than $1 billion in free medicines to more than 45,000 patients in the U.S. Over the past five years, free medication valued at roughly $3.4 billion has been provided to around 334,000 patients.

Silver Winner: Pharma/Biotech

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company that is applying a unique approach to gene science based on Nobel Prize-winning technology to discover and develop precise medicines for people with serious, chronic conditions. Using a patient-driven approach, the company is working to discover and develop innovative medicines to safely and effectively treat disease and improve patient lives.

Through their Genome5000™ program, Lexicon scientists spent more than a decade studying the role and function of nearly 5,000 genes to pinpoint the key targets for drug development. This systematic, targeted approach led them to identify more than 100 protein targets with significant therapeutic potential in a wide range of diseases. These precise targets serve as a roadmap for the development of pioneering medicines that have the potential to improve the standard of care for patients so that they can live better, more empowered lives. The company’s passion is to bring medicines to the market that have the potential to improve the standard of care for diseases that have not experienced new treatment innovation in years—decades, in some cases.

Innovation

  • Lexicon has focused on carcinoid syndrome, a rare disease associated with neuroendocrine cancer that many physicians are not even aware of, often leaving patients without a diagnosis for up to 10 years. During this time, patients deal with debilitating symptoms, sometimes trapped in their homes due to daily diarrhea attacks. Lexicon performed the largest U.S. survey for carcinoid syndrome patients to understand how their lives are impacted and what their unmet needs may be. The survey’s results directly aided the community regarding the disconnect between what physicians focus on and what their patients are really experiencing.
  • Lexicon also launched AboutCarcinoid.com as a resource for patient education and support. It has become a vital tool for those who are on the long journey of diagnosis or who are currently managing their carcinoid syndrome.
  • Meanwhile, Lexicon developed XERMELO, the first and only oral prescription for controlling diarrhea associated with carcinoid syndrome so that patients can take more control over their lives.

Talent Development

  • Lexicon values a diverse workforce with a company culture that reflects a variety of ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, races, and religions. Lexicon maintains an inclusive, high-performing environment where all team members embrace and leverage each others’ talents and backgrounds, nourish innovative thinking, and can achieve their full potential.

Social Responsibility

  • Aside from building community awareness of the under-researched carcinoid syndrome, Lexicon raised money to be donated to multiple local support groups to help patient education.

Gold Winner: Medical Device/Diagnostics

DIABNEXT may be a startup company with only 30 employees, but the company has big ambitions. Their main focus is on developing innovative hardware devices and software solutions for the advancement of diabetes management. And their biggest achievement to date has been the DIABNEXT Platform/Mobile App, which offers the world’s first artificial intelligence dedicated to diabetes management. And that isn’t even the company’s only product that can be described as the “world’s first,” which is a pretty good indicator of just how innovative this company has been.

Innovation

  • The DIABNEXT Platform/Mobile App first uses interactive software and connected hardware to automatically collect and analyze the main metrics of diabetes (blood glucose levels, injected insulin units, meal carbohydrates). Then, that info is collected and transmitted to the DIABNEXT mobile app, which automatically completes the data logbook. This combination of artificial intelligence, voice and visual recognition, cloud technology, and precision hardware optimizes the management of diabetes.
  • Meanwhile, CLIPSULIN is the world’s first removable memory recorder designed to be used with all reusable and disposable insulin pens available on the market. The dose, date, and time of injection is stored in the CLIPSULIN, and through a Bluetooth connection, this data can be transmitted to the DIABNEXT app.
  • Additionally, GLUCONEXT is a small accessory that plugs into a blood glucose meter and allows you to view and access your blood glucose levels on the DIABNEXT app—even if your meter does not have wireless data transmission capabilities, such as Bluetooth or WiFi access.
  • The company also developed SNAPCARBS, the world’s first software that uses image-recognition to evaluate carbohydrates within different types of food.

Talent Development

  • The company utilizes an open-space working environment to encourage communication and collaboration among colleagues and across departments.
  • As part of their benefits, employees are encouraged to seek out and attend courses and seminars for continued education related to any technological and medical advancements and updates.
  • As a startup, the company also offers shares to employees.

Social Responsibility

  • The company’s mission is to provide the best tools for diabetics across the world to better manage their conditions, while also helping healthcare professionals to better understand each patient’s circumstance and condition.
  • Diabetes is one of the costliest chronic diseases in the world. The company hopes its DIABNEXT platform will result in optimal patient adherence, thus reducing the costs associated with managing diabetes.

Silver Winner: Medical Device/Diagnostics

Roche Diagnostics is already the world leader in the in vitro diagnostics business, but the company’s comprehensive portfolio grew even larger in 2016 with the addition of nine key instruments and tests in the U.S. Those additions led to another successful year for Roche Diagnostics Corporation in 2016, as sales for the division were up 7% from the previous year. One of the company’s continuing goals is helping to create a fully connected laboratory with automated processing and integrated workflow to enable healthcare professionals to make informed patient care decisions in the fastest and most efficient way. But in addition to improving healthcare, Roche Diagnostics is committed to becoming the best company possible through a focus on sustainability, community involvement, and talent development.

Innovation

  • In June 2016, the FDA approved the cobas EGFR Mutation test v2 for use with plasma samples, as a companion diagnostic for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) therapy with Tarceva. This was the first FDA approval of a liquid biopsy test as an aid in clinical decisions, and makes this test the only FDA-approved companion diagnostic for the detection of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene in DNA derived from plasma or tumor tissue.
  • In August 2016, the FDA granted 510(k) clearance for the cobas Influenza A/B & RSV test for use on the cobas Liat system. This is the first CLIA-waived point-of-care test that extends the value of molecular testing beyond influenza A/B and Streptococcus A to include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Talent Development

  • Roche Diagnostics was named No. 70 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2017.
  • Roche Diagnostics’ Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), launched in 2011 to help increase the number of women in key leadership positions, was honored with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) ACE award in 2015. The WLI has helped grow the number of women in top positions from 9% in 2009 to 22% by the end of 2016.

Social Responsibility

  • Roche Diagnostics was named No. 31 on People’s first annual “50 Companies That Care” list, which is based on the generosity of a company’s benefits and charitable work, as well as personal accounts of the impact an organization has made on the lives of its employees.
  • Roche has been recognized as Group Leader in sustainability within the Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Industry index of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for nine consecutive years. This is based on an in-depth analysis of economic, social, and environmental performance.

Gold Winner: Advertising Agency

Klick Health just doesn’t stop growing. The privately held, independent, full-service agency is growing by an average 40% annually, and over the course of 2016 they increased talent numbers, service offerings, and client accounts. But what makes Klick truly special is its ability to consistently deliver innovation programs that are changing the industry, such as co-founding and commercializing Circulation, a startup using technology to disrupt traditional approaches and solve the challenge of non-emergency medical transportation availability. Circulation integrates with Uber to positively impact population health by tackling this challenge head-on. Of course, Klick also turns its innovative thinking inward to create new ways to nurture its leadership and staff as well as improve the global community.

Innovation

  • Circulation—which was founded by Dr. John Brownstein, a healthcare advisor to Uber and professor at Harvard Medical School; Robin Heffernan, former CEO of Epidemico; Jared Hawkins, director of the informatics innovation program at Boston Children’s Hospital; and Leerom Segal, CEO and Co-founder of Klick Health—has been able to reduce the average cost of a non-emergency transport by up to 50% and reduce the industry no-show rate from 50% to 8% since its launch in April.
  • Klick developed the Ideas Exchange platform, an online community that curates informative talks and discussions from events around the world. Focused on bringing together the world’s leaders in healthcare, Klick partnered with organizations, such as Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine, to capture and share talks that are pertinent to the healthcare industry.

Talent Development

  • In 2016, Klick made a large investment to level up their leadership capabilities. This included inviting external experts, such as Jocko Willink, author of Extreme Ownership, and Fred Kofman, author of Conscious Business, to host workshops for their teams. Also, they created custom workshops on topics such as active listening, conscious conversations, and the importance of difficult conversations.
  • They also won numerous awards including being named a Great Place to Work® and one of the Best Workplaces for Women, as well as earned a ranking on the Technology Fast 50.

Social Responsibility

  • In 2016, Klick donated more than $500,000 to causes that their team members were most passionate about. Of that, Klick It Forward, the agency’s charitable giving program that rewards employees for exceptional work with donation credits for charities, raised over $130,000 alone.
  • In June, Klicksters participated in the Ride for Heart campaign, where they were named the top corporate fundraiser in their division.
  • Each week, they also host internal #TavernGives events that raise funds for a wide-range of employee-selected charities.

Silver Winner: Advertising Agency

In 2016, Calcium underwent a strategic shift that may fly in the face of convention, but ultimately meant better results for both the agency and its clients. The agency continued to reduce its clients from 30 (2015) to 18 (2016) to 9 (2017). This streamlining led to an important shift from smaller, project-based accounts to larger, AOR accounts and is reinforced by Calcium’s new philosophy: “We don’t want to be the biggest agency—just the best.” Additionally, the agency has adopted the theme of “brand nourishment” in everything it does, from building clients’ brand to helping the agency’s own employees to better improving outside communities.

Innovation

  • Clients are drawn to Calcium’s proprietary Growth Process, which is a powerful system for generating the kind of insights, strategies, creative, tactics, and technology solutions that drive businesses powerfully forward. As a result, at the end of 2016, revenue was up 30% over the previous year. What’s more, as of April 2017, revenue is 100% higher than the year before and should close out the year at that percentage.
  • Just some examples of the agency’s recent innovative work include: Launch of Keveyis for Strongbridge Biopharma; launch of Interleukin Genetics’ Ilustra; and a comprehensive, global insight generation program to support the launch of new indications for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Orencia.

Talent Development

  • Calcium has dedicated a great deal of attention to establishing—and continuously reinforcing—a positive and productive agency culture. The entire agency gathers on a bi-weekly basis to discuss a wide range of client, agency, and industry issues, with employees at all levels actively participating in the conversations. These gatherings also take on special themes depending on the time of year, holidays, or employee interests.
  • Calcium has also begun offering free lunch for all employees. “If you’re going to work through lunch, we’re buying,” says CEO Steven Michaelson. “Who says there’s no free lunch.”
  • The agency believes in providing every employee with the tools and opportunities to produce great work and deliver real client impact, which involves a significant amount of mentoring from senior personnel.

Social Responsibility

  • Every year, Calcium supports The Great American Milk Drive, an organization dedicated to providing critical nutritional support for Americans in need.
  • And the agency is a proud supporter, both financially and through promotional work, of the Haven Kids Rock program at the Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the South Bronx.

Gold Winner: Specialty Pharma/Biotech

Strongbridge Biopharma plc is a global commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for rare diseases with significant unmet needs. The company is committed to bridging treatment gaps as rapidly as possible, with a primary focus of building and advancing a portfolio of vertical, therapeutically aligned rare disease franchises. The company was rebranded as Strongbridge Biopharma in 2015 to signify its intent to build a strong clinical and financial foundation that will connect rare disease patients with therapies they deserve.

Innovation

  • At the center of its rare neuromuscular disease franchise is KEVEYIS® (dichlorphenamide), the first and only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved product to treat hyperkalemic, hypokalemic, and related variants of Primary Periodic Paralysis (PPP), which the company acquired in December 2016.
  • Through the launch of KEVEYIS, Strongbridge’s initial commercial infrastructure was formed, along with a best-in-class patient services and support program, a multi-faceted disease state educational program to raise awareness of PPP, as well as a brand awareness campaign directed toward healthcare professionals and the patient community. Most recently, the company launched Uncovering Periodic Paralysis, a no-cost genetic testing program to help narrow the diagnosis journey for patients and physicians, which can take up to 20 years.
  • Strongbridge continues to advance its Phase 3 clinical development program for RECORLEV™ (levoketoconazole), a next-generation cortisol synthesis inhibitor for the treatment of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome.

Talent Development

  • Strongbridge’s leadership and management teams are focused on meeting patients’ needs in rare medical conditions and are committed to delivering results for all stakeholders. Chief executive officer Matthew Pauls, a 20-year industry veteran, brings extensive general management and global commercial leadership experience to Strongbridge Biopharma.
  • Strongbridge consists of a world-class rare disease commercial organization, with a high-performing, passionate field-based sales team recruited from the top rare disease companies in the industry, as well as top talent in marketing, market access, patient services, and advocacy.

Social Responsibility

  • Strongbridge supports a variety of advocacy organizations and initiatives that shed light on rare diseases, with partners such as the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD), Global Genes, Periodic Paralysis Association, Periodic Paralysis International and the Cushing’s Research and Support Foundation, among others.
  • Medical Education Grants are considered for healthcare professionals and organizations to provide education and support for identified unmet educational needs.
  • The company also provides in-kind donations for local food banks and school supply donation collections monthly.

Silver Winner: Specialty Pharma/Biotech

Putting patients first is a message that all pharma companies preach, but, in 2016, Promius Pharma, a subsidiary of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, rebranded its corporate identity to put that message front and center. With the new mantra, “The Power of Humans Being,” the company wants to emphasize that every patient is a person first, which is why the Promius mission is to “help patients get back to what matters most—being a person.” Promius is committed to bringing new products to market that meet patients’ needs in dermatology and neurology, which includes several innovative solutions in 2017. The company works just as hard to ensure eligible patients have access to these solutions through The Promius Promise.

Neurology and Dermatology Product Portfolio

The current Promius neurology portfolio includes a treatment option for migraine. Data from the 2017 Migraine in America Symptoms and Treatment (MAST) Study, the largest web-based, longitudinal survey of migraine in the U.S., was recently displayed in scientific presentations and posters.

The Promius dermatology portfolio includes treatment options for mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis, corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses, atopic dermatitis/eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. Promius has more than 10 dermatology and neurology products in its pipeline.

Talent Development

  • Two company scientists, Sagar Munjal, MD, and Alix Bennett, PhD, along with a team of researchers, including Richard B. Lipton MD, were honored by the American Headache Society (AHS) with the prestigious Harold G. Wolff Lecture Award.
  • The Management Development Program nominates 15 to 20 high-potential, emerging leaders to better prepare them for more extensive management challenges.

Social Responsibility

  • The Promius Promise was designed specifically to support patients, including insurance coordination and direct shipping of products. Since launch, the program has provided more than $6 million in assistance to eligible insured and cash-paying patients and helped more than 40,000 patients gain access to and stay on track with treatment.
  • The Educational Grant program addresses the clinical practice gaps that exist in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of certain diseases. Promius also supports patient education through educational grants to patient advocacy groups.

Gold Winner: Supplier/Vendor

The past 12 months have been a landmark year for Outcome Health. Not only did the company recently rebrand, changing its name from ContextMedia:Health, but in November 2016, the company acquired AccentHealth—its largest direct competitor. As of June 2017, Outcome Health has successfully integrated AccentHealth’s offices onto its platform, which means the company now has touchpoints in more than 41,000 physician practices, hospitals, and health systems. After reporting 2015 revenues of $63M, Outcome Health ended 2016 with more than 100% growth and over $129M in revenue—or more than $180M in combined revenue with AccentHealth. Growth like that can’t be denied, and it is only one of the reasons why Outcome Health is worthy of being named the PM360 Trailblazer Supplier/Vendor of the Year.

Innovation

  • Outcome Health has helped bring the moments of care from purely passive information (brochures and TVs) to interactive intelligence, by building a multi-product platform that includes patient tablets with health assessments and interactive Digital Wallboards that can be used by physicians to better explain conditions and treatment options to patients.
  • To further its innovation and growth, in May of 2017, Outcome Health announced a staggering fundraise of $500M+ at a $5B valuation. Participants in this raise included Google, Goldman Sachs, Pritzker Group, and Leerink Transformation Partners.

Talent Development

  • To support its continued growth, Outcome Health has continued to build a world-class team. Today, it has more than 600 employees, and retained some of the top talent from its acquisition of AccentHealth.
  • Additionally, in the past year, Outcome Health started attracting leading talent from Silicon Valley and New York, including Nandini Ramani as Chief Engineering Officer (former VP of Engineering at Twitter); Blake Chandlee as EVP of Emerging Business (first international Facebook employee); and Vivek Kundra as Chief Operating Officer (Former CIO of the United States under President Obama, and former EVP at Salesforce).

Social Responsibility

  • In the past year, Outcome Health’s corporate social responsibility initiatives include engagements in education and healthcare, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Urban Alliance, Launch U, Imerman Angels (patient advocacy), the University of Chicago, One Goal, Chicago Tech Academy, One Ounce Protection Fund, and Bright Pink.
  • Its founders also operate an angel investment firm, Jumpstart Ventures, where they have invested more than $25M across 47 high-growth health tech and education tech startups.

Silver Winner: Supplier/Vendor

Qstream helps to make great sales reps even better. Its sales acceleration platform uses science, data, and mobile technology to drive high performance sales teams at scale. Qstream’s innovation lies in its ability to capture data on the “human” capabilities that drive sales revenue. The company’s approach is scientifically proven to make information stick—whether it is used to onboard new hires, reinforce key brand messages, or “reboard” reps being integrated from an acquisition or after a senior management shift. Additionally, its platform keeps the sales force up to date on disease states, competition, regulations, and more via any mobile device in just three minutes a day. But that only scratches the surface of what makes Qstream a Trailblazer Company of the Year.

Innovation

  • In October 2016, Qstream launched Coaching Hub to solve for the insufficient coaching a majority of firms conduct. And, Video Coaching—the latest addition to Coaching Hub—aligns manager video observations with knowledge and skills insights, competency ratings, and CRM-sourced performance and productivity data to provide a 360° view of a team’s capabilities.
  • Not only can Qstream’s platform be used to optimize training, but it can also help companies to better manage competitive threats as well as manage regulatory risks. Overall, the platform has been proven to: Increase knowledge retention up to 170%, deliver engagement rates over 94%, and improve coaching effectiveness by 55%. Furthermore, it is preferred 3:1 over web-based methods.

Talent Development

  • The company’s culture has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine’s 2017 Top Company Cultures award, the Boston Business Journal’s 2017 and 2016 Best Places to Work awards, and an inclusion in a Forbes article, “Get Employees to Act Like Owners of the Business.”
  • In 2016, the entire company was united in Orlando, FL, for its annual SummitQ, an event that fosters employee camaraderie and improves teamwork.
  • Every week, Qstream hosts a team lunch for all employees, where a range of ethnic foods are provided to celebrate company diversity and say “thank you” for all of their hard work.

Social Responsibility

  • Qstream employees have opportunities to participate in charitable activities throughout the year, including the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Boston, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, and the People Helping People Holiday program. The fund helped 94 families with 198 children in the local community in 2016.
  • The company also donated 137.2 lbs of food to the Burlington Food Pantry in 2016.

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