MassDevice Q&A: Accuray president and CEO Euan Thomson

August 16, 2010 by Brad Perriello

Euan Thomson, president and CEO of Accuray Inc., on how his company managed to fare well despite the capital expenditure market's downturn, its distribution and R&D deal with Siemens and why healthcare reform could have a big upside for Accuray.

MassDevice Q&A: Accuray president and CEO Euan Thomson

Accuray Inc. (NSDQ:ARAY) has a tough row to hoe: Cultivate a market that crosses medical specialty lines for a product that costs millions. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's CyberKnife system is a pioneering device in radiosurgery, using precisely targeted, massive doses of X-ray radiation to non-invasively destroy tumors.

Founded in the 1990, Accuray's device was based on an idea developed by a team of physicians at Stanford University, led by Dr. John Adler, in the late 1980s. Since its founding the company has seen its share of ups and downs, not least co-founder and former CEO Adler's not-exactly-friendly departure earlier this year. Since its début as a public company in February 2007, Accuray's stock price has dropped from a $22.68 start to its current level in the mid-$6.50 range.

But the downs aren't the whole story. The Food & Drug Administration granted 510(k) clearance to the CyberKnife in 1999 for the treatment of head, neck and upper spine tumors; clearance for treatment of tumors throughout the body followed in 2001.

Soon after that, president and CEO Euan Thomson signed on. Since then, the company has racked up a string of wins, celebrating the 200th CyberKnife installation in June of this year and winning approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for the G4 version of the system earlier this month. The latest CyberKnife iteration, the VSI, which can track and correct for the movement of a patient's body during treatment, saw its first installation in May. And Accuray inked a distribution and R&D deal with imaging colossus Siemens (ETR:SIE) that opens up a wealth of possibilities for global distribution and new product enhancements.

MassDevice spoke with Thomson about the company's origins, the split with Adler ("John left for personal reasons. There was no disagreement over strategy or any other issue," Thomson told us), the Siemens deal and why healthcare reform could be a big boon for Accuray.

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