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Innomar Strategies: 20 years of innovative market access solutions

By AmerisourceBergen

Reinventing Canadian market access from the dining room table

Imagine: The year is 2001 in Canada.

Biologics haven't yet taken off, but there's momentum brewing among specialty medications. Therapies are getting more complex and costly. Three people huddle around a kitchen table, brainstorming how to expand access for patients who need innovative therapies.

Fast forward to 2021, and that three-person session has grown into a 3,000-member commercialization partner supporting more than 100 specialty drugs across Canada. Last year, they were chosen to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines to every Canadian.

And this year, Innomar Strategies celebrates 20 years of service.

Reinventing drug commercialization in Canada

Innomar's path to becoming a fixture in Canadian healthcare stemmed from an earnest goal: improving patient care. That was something sorely needed in the early aughts, as complexities in health policy and therapeutic innovation shifted how drugs could be handled and administered in Canada. Those challenges created inefficiencies in commercialization, which drove patient costs and barriers higher.

“When you looked at the landscape, you could sense the frustration manufacturers were having that reimbursement, logistics, patient support, infusion services, distribution, regulation, and all of these other factors were so piecemealed," says Guy Payette, President of Innomar Strategies. “So we just said, 'Wouldn't it be nice if somebody could just put this all together?' With this integrated model, which we hold to today, we were helping manufacturers connect the dots across the whole ecosystem of commercialization."

These days, patients benefit from that integrated model more than ever. “One of our biggest accomplishments is just taking the patient by the hand," Payette says. “We guide them through all facets of their care, from financial and administration to helping them adhere to therapies. Along the way, we've become a part of the care team with their physician and nurses."

The best of both worlds

Innomar operated independently for its early years, and when the opportunity came to combine its agility with AmerisourceBergen's scale, it was a match. Ultimately, the partnership brought out the best in both companies to expand market access in Canada, Payette says.

“AmerisourceBergen allowed us to continue to grow, and culturally we had a common purpose and vision to put the patient at the center of everything," he emphasizes. “And now, it's an exciting mix where we have that entrepreneurial spirit to innovate, but we also have the robustness of a Fortune 500 company on our side. The Canadian pharmaceutical market only gets more complex as time goes on, so it's a strong partnership to advance our mutual goals."

Prioritizing people, always

Back when Innomar began, nobody could have predicted a global public health crisis. But what they did plan for was this: By prioritizing people, both patients and employees, the company could weather what came.

That mantra has kept Innomar growing through all these years, even the most recent struggles amid COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, Innomar has not missed a single patient appointment and has maintained its pre-COVID volume of 8,000 infusions per week.

“Throughout everything, what has kept us going through the pandemic? Why have we served the patients the way we have? It's because of the people who work here," Payette says. “As we move forward and think about what's ahead, our ongoing focus is to support our people, train and develop them, and equip them with new skills and resources to make a difference in Canada.”

In particular, Innomar leadership wants to make space for more innovative ideas, Payette adds. “We're not afraid to dive in and try new things, and that starts with our people," he said. “Every associate has a responsibility to challenge us and bring new ideas to evolve our model. New technologies and innovations allow us to make thoughtful decisions with our capital, glean efficiencies, and rethink the patient journey for a better experience."

After all, that's been the goal from the start.

“I don't think we ever realized way back then that we would someday be playing such an important role in the Canadian healthcare system and patient lives," Payette reflects.

20th anniversary - Celebrating 20 years of serving Canadians

“But when you look at the fact that 20 years later, we've got 3,000 people and we're involved in the largest logistical distribution ever in Canada for COVID-19, we're living out that dream. The future is pretty exciting."