2023 BAM Outstanding Leadership in Bioscience - Dr. Albert Friesen

On March 2nd at the Annual Bioscience Association Manitoba (BAM) awards gala, Medicure's founder and CEO, Dr. Albert D. Friesen received an award for Outstanding Leadership in Bioscience of the Year.

Dr. Friesen has significantly contributed to the bioscience industry through his leadership, mentorship, and innovative research. He has played a key role in founding several health industry companies including being the first employee and President of the Winnipeg Rh Institute, where he oversaw the development of the WinRho vaccine. Dr. Friesen is also the founder of the Industrial Biotechnology Association of Canada (IBAC) and past Chairman of its board of directors which is now known as BIOTECanada. Dr. Friesen work has helped to shape the bioscience community in Manitoba and in Canada.

Through the Bert and Lee Friesen Foundation, Dr. Friesen is active in providing community support to organizations like the University of Manitoba, Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Human Rights Museum, Assiniboine Park Conservancy, and organizations focused on alleviating poverty. A strong advocate for "Business Solutions to Porverty", Dr. Frisen chaired the International board of MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates), an international economic development organization from 2014 to 2017.

Dr. Friesen is the recipient a number of awards, including the Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Manitoba – 2003; Order of Manitoba – 2005; Life Science Award – Individual Contribution to the Industry – Life Science Association of Manitoba – 2007; The Industry Leadership Gold Leaf Award by BIOTECanada – 2013; University of Manitoba Faculty of Science Alumni Award – 2019.

Dr. Friesen has played a key role in founding several other health industry companies including ABI Biotechnology (acquired by Apotex Inc.), Viventia Biotech Inc., now Sesen Bio, Genesys Pharma Inc., DiaMedica Inc., Miraculins Inc., Mantex Inc., Kane Biotech Inc., Waverley Pharma Inc., CanAm Bioresearch Inc. and GVI Clinical Development Solutions.

Dr. Friesen's career has been built on honesty, integrity, and innovation. He has been referred to as the 'father of biotechnology' in Manitoba by his peers. Dr. Friesen founded Medicure in 1997, with the goal of bringing a product, MC-1, from idea, to approved. Unfortunately, a Phase 3 trial failed to meet its primary endpoint in 2008. Dr. Friesen helped Medicure pivot to promote a product abandoned by another pharmaceutical company, Aggrastat (tirofiban hydrochloride) injection, and grew its market share from 2% to eventually 65%. Medicure now bolsters an impressive portfolio with several cardiovascular products. In 2020, Medicure purchased Marley Drug, a mail-order pharmacy as a way to by-pass insurance company middlemen who were eating away at Medicure's profits for their statin-medication Zypitamag (pitavastatin) tablets, and driving the cost of this medication for patients way up. This new vertically integrated model allows Medicure to offer Zypitamag and other medications for sale directly to patients, cutting out various middlemen. This lowers out-of-pocket costs for patients and also increases profit margins for Medicure (see Why Medicure Purchased Marley Drug).

Watch the video below as the Medicure team reflects on Dr. Friesen's leadership and vision.