AssureRx hires new CEO, prepares for Series A fund-raise later this year

AssureRx logoCINCINNATI, Ohio — AssureRx, which is developing a genetic test for psychiatric medicines, has switched chief executives as it prepares for a broader commercial launch and a round of private equity funding later this year.

New chief executive James S. Burns is the former head of oncology at inflammatories drug maker EntreMed. In addition, he helped found two other drug companies:  MedPointe Pharmaceuticals and Osiris Therapeutics; and started two equity funds: MedPointe Capital Partners and Healthcare Ventures LP. 

He takes over from Mark Byrne, who returns to his consulting business, PriMedicus Development, after working the last three years managing AssureRx through its pre-commercial stage.

“This is a signal to our current and next investors that we’re ready to make the next step,” said Al Lucas, AssureRx’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Byrne said the next challenge for AssureRx will be to complete a series of additional clinical studies that it can use to convince payers to reimburse for the drug. The company’s product, GeneSightRx, is supposed to help doctors understand how a patient’s genetic makeup could affect use of psychiatric drugs, leading to a better dosage for the patient. The product was developed using research from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Mayo Clinic.

Burns will prepare the company and product for a commercial launch, which could come at the end of 2009. He’ll also begin to recruit investors and price the company’s Series A round, set to close early in 2010, Lucas said. The company doesn’t yet know how much money it wants to raise, he said.

AssureRx recently built its own lab where it can conduct tests and generate reports for physicians who use its drugs. In early 2008, the company closed a round of funding. Altogether, the company has previously raised about $3 million from Mayo, Queen City Angels, CincyTech Ventures, Blue Chip Venture Co. and Cincinnati Children’s Tomorrow Fund, among others, Lucas said.

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