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Bernie Desgagnés: Bringing Regulatory, Clinical Research and Creative Solutions Together

Bernie Desgagnés
Bernie Desgagnés

In an era where access to safe and efficacious health products is paramount, one individual stands at the forefront, driving the importance of regulatory compliance and product validation. Meet Bernie Desgagnés, the President and CEO of Source Nutraceutical, Inc. (SNI), a Canadian Contract Research Organization (CRO) dedicated to ensuring the quality and integrity of therapeutic and health products. As Canada’s Top 5 Influential Healthcare Leaders to Know in 2023, Bernie’s unwavering commitment to regulatory adherence and product validation has solidified his position as a trusted advocate in the industry.

In a bustling workplace dedicated to health and safety, Bernie’s early career exposed him to the complexities of regulatory affairs. It was a time when the Natural Health Product (NHP) Regulations were in their infancy in Canada. Bernie was captivated by the growing need for stringent regulations and rigorous product validation to protect consumers’ well-being. He realized that the industry’s future relied on establishing a framework that prioritized safety, efficacy, and consumer confidence.

Driven by this newfound passion, Bernie embarked on a mission to create an organization that would champion product validation and regulatory compliance. SNI became the manifestation of his vision. Bernie understood that the talent within his company would be instrumental in surpassing the competition and meeting clients’ needs. He surrounded himself with subject matter experts whose expertise would ensure that health products underwent rigorous scrutiny before reaching consumers’ hands.

Bernie also believes that through a combination of robust regulations, rigorous product validation processes, and a commitment to consumer safety, the natural health product industry can thrive while inspiring confidence in its offerings. His unwavering dedication to upholding industry standards and relentless pursuit of excellence has positioned him as a key influencer in the healthcare landscape.

Let’s dive in to learn about Bernie’s remarkable contributions that testify to the significance of access to safe and efficacious health products.

Bernie Desgagnés in Brief

Bernie has been part of the natural health industry and government in various capacities for more than 20 years now. “I was introduced to regulatory affairs and compliance in one of my earlier roles in workplace health and safety. It was interesting to see this need in the industry, especially since the Natural Health Product (NHP) Regulations were just being developed in Canada,” says Bernie.

His career accelerated into a leadership role, working as a Director of Regulatory Affairs at an NHP [dietary supplement] company. At this juncture, he thought that he could build a business around helping even more companies with their compliance needs.

“In 2004, I founded Source Nutraceutical, Inc. (SNI). As the President and CEO of this leading Canadian Contract Research Organization, I take pride in seeing all the brands and companies our team has helped along the way, as well as having grown the company over the past two decades.”

Source of Inspiration

Bernie’s inspiration for wanting to make a difference in the healthcare industry began during his years as a competitive athlete. Seeing a lack of access to safe, efficacious health products to supplement his training and performance led him to seek out opportunities to help grow and support the industry. Working for the government during the time the Canadian regulations were being conceptualized allowed him to contribute to the foundational framework which remains in place today, in Canada’s current regulations.

Roles and Operations

As the President and CEO of SNI, Bernie guides the company’s strategic vision, which includes building and supporting the team of subject matter experts. “Our talented people and the expertise they bring are what makes us able to meet our client’s needs better than the competition,” emphasizes Bernie.

“In my ‘unofficial role’ as chief product development consultant, I support research and development (R&D) and supply chain initiatives for our clients. I also enjoy attending industry trade shows and networking events to represent our company, new connections, and visiting current customers.”

Supporting the Teams

SNI has several core divisions, with dedicated teams delivering services in the areas of regulatory affairs, clinical research, research and development, quality assurance, and creative services. Bernie works with each department head to support them in delivering results for our clients that are on time and within the project scope and budget. It’s very important to me as a President/CEO that each member of the SNI Team feels supported and that they can grow and develop over time.

R&D Operations at Present

“As a leading Contract Research Organization, it is critical for us to continue to maintain and expand our services. We achieve this through ongoing research and development, growing various areas of our company from concepts into new service offerings,” says Bernie.

“Over the past 3-5 years, we have invested in our own state-of-the-art clinical trials facility to support larger projects in a wide array of health areas. This expansion enables us to take on studies with increased complexity.”

He continues, “Most recently, we have initiated a new quality assurance initiative focused on bioanalytics and health product analytics. This will allow us to service not only our own clinical trial clients but also our industry clients selling commercial products in various markets.”

Leveraging Technological Advances

Technology is a big part of SNI’s business.

  • On the business management side, Bernie and the team utilize leading customer relationship and project management systems to efficiently guide the client’s work to completion in a timely and organized manner.
  • At the clinical research site, the team is proud to manage state-of-the-art research instrumentation, which helps to make SNI’s study operations efficient and reliable. Bernie adds, “We have a body composition analyzer, digital heart rate monitors, retinal scanner and an ECG onsite, all brand new (and with the latest technological platforms). We also use electronic data capture systems and mobile technology to allow our staff to quickly and efficiently capture participant data in a secure manner. Our digital monitoring systems help to ensure that our biological samples are maintained at optimal temperatures in a secure manner. All of these technologies support our research team in confidently managing our clinical trial operations.”
  • On the creative services side, the team leverages sophisticated software solutions to manage high volumes of product SKUs and their associated design and compliance requirements. “This software allows us to maintain large databases of product information and designs for our customers. Our graphic design team uses the very latest design technologies, including 3D package renderings,” says Bernie. “We are also currently in the midst of a large cybersecurity initiative, expanding our existing systems to meet international standards and ISO certification.”

Endeavors at Present

At SNI, Bernie and the team are always soliciting client feedback and using it to streamline the processes. Last fall, they implemented a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which has increased their efficiencies in client communication and financial processes. This extends all the way from the sales cycle and proposal creation to client onboarding, project milestones, and delivery.

Overcoming Challenges

SNI’s operational challenges are typical for a service-based company. At times, the company has an overflow of clients; at others, things slow down somewhat. During the pandemic, Bernie and his team quickly adapted to a hybrid work model and effectively continued to work collaboratively, whether on-site at SNI’s offices or remotely.

Words of Wisdom

To the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into the sector, Bernie advises, “Don’t be afraid to take a chance on an idea! Tap into your natural interests and find ways to add value. Also, surround yourself with members of different industries to keep your finger on the pulse. This will help you stay in tune with what’s going on in the market, making you a better leader.”

Scaling 2023 and Beyond

Envisioning this year of 2023, Bernie says, “This year is an incredibly exciting one for us. With a wave of new projects flowing in and the continued scale-up of our clinical trials facility, we have been able to bring on new team members in more specialized roles. This team expansion has enabled us to increase our international reach to enhance our service offerings to multiple regulatory jurisdictions, including the US, Mexico, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.”

“We look forward to continuing to serve our core markets of natural health and food, as well as making a splash with new content initiatives like The SNI Podcast,” he concludes.



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