Perseon (NSDQ:PRSN), previously known as BSD Medical, has gone through some significant changes in the past year – renamed, rebranded, and divested of assets. At the helm for these changes is Clint Carnell, former CEO of MyoScience, advisor to Covidien and veep of sales at Bausch & Lomb’s surgical division.
Carnell has been in the medical device industry for more than 20 years, and spoke to MassDevice.com about his transition to Perseon earlier this year, how he’s helping the company turn around and how and why he operates within the medical device industry.
“There’s nothing like being in medical devices – you’re working on something with smart people, engineers, scientists, physicians. You’re really solving complex problems, you’re developing products that are quite sophisticated and applying them to life saving benefits,” Carnell told MassDevice.com in an interview.
When he joined Perseon, Carnell said the company needed help. It had an incredibly useful device in its microwave ablation technology, but was burdened and on a sliding trajectory.
“I’m comfortable coming into companies that have had troubles – identifying problems, creating critical solutions and hiring and inspiring a team to fix them,” Carnell said.
He did just that, taking steps to divest the company of its hyperthermia devision, reshaped the board and leadership teams and tried to focus the company on commercializing what he saw as a device that could become a standard of care in the field.
Perseon’s flagship product is the MicroThermX, a microwave ablation system used to ablate soft tissue tumors. The device can be used in percutaneous or open surgical procedures, and received expanded 510(k) clearance earlier this year for laproscopic ablation procedures using image guidance.
The novel product is used to treat cancer, which Carnell said only reinforced the importance of what he does and why he stays in the medical device industry.
“In the case of Perseon, I don’t think there’s a more noble cause than going to work every day trying to fight one of humanity’s worst diseases, and that’s cancer. You never go into business, necessarily, for that reason as a CEO, but it sure is nice to do when you walk through the door and you know that everyone on your team will deliver a product and a service that benefits patients worldwide and puts doctors in a hero’s position,” Carnell said.
Carnell also took steps to shift the culture of the company, changing out 75% of the leadership team and half of the board. This year, Perseon issued guidance for sales of $3.5 million to $5 million, with gross margins of 65% to 75%.
Even with the hard work to reshape it, the company has had a rocky path. Earlier this month, it flirted with delisting by Nasdaq, but managed to bring in enough interest from investors to raise $4.3 million to avoid the jam.
Carnell said the road ahead wouldn’t be simple, for Perseon or any microcap medical device firm. Navigating FDA requirements takes longer, and issues with reimbursements are harder to handle than before, but he said he’s still optimistic.
“I just think it’s a fascinating area to work in. From my standpoint, these are just table stakes if you’re going to run a medical device company – learning how to put a good team together, a good strategy and learning how to overcome the necessary nuances of running a medical device company,” Carnell said.
Carnell said he hopes to expand Perseon’s microwave ablation technology from its current indication for stage 4 treatments to cover all stages. He claims the energy-based ablation is superior to radiofrequency, cryo and other forms of ablation that exist on the market today and is more affordable than the competition.
“Energy ablation, particularly microwave, is really an incredibly powerful tool in helping physicians fight cancer. I think what you’ll see from us and others is expansion into new organs, tumors and a blue sky opportunity to give them better treatment than anyone recognizes. In 5 years, if we’re doing a follow up with MassDevice, it’ll be a no-brainer that physicians go to microwave quickly, and see it as the safe and effective tool it is,” Carnell said.
And though it’s been a lot of hard work, according to Carnell, he’s enjoyed being at the reins for the company’s turnaround.
“It’s been a lot of fun, helping to reshape the company and finally putting it in a position to take advantage of the growth opportunity in front of us,” Carnell said.
Watch for the full audio interview with Carnell in the coming weeks.