Leveraging a Multi-Coastal Point of View of Life Sciences

May 17th, 2011
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Having a pulse on global trends in the biopharmaceutical industry requires a wide range of insights from experience in pharmacological research and technology development through to the core operations of large-scale and startup life science businesses. With this in mind, I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Andreas Muehler as our second strategic advisor. Dr. Muehler’s experience with preclinical and clinical development, major product launches, licensing, business development, and marketing provide him with a unique combination of technical and business perspectives.
In the United States, Dr. Muehler developed and managed multiple startup medical device and medical technology companies. Among them were 3TP LLC d/b/a CAD Sciences (White Plains, NY), a medical software company that was sold to iCAD Medical in 2008. Dr. Muehler was also President & CEO of MicroMRI Inc (Langhorne, PA), a medical device company that received FDA clearance for both hardware and software components during his tenure. Dr. Muehler has also been managing director of a German healthcare private equity fund, Palladius Healthcare GmbH in Munich, which acquired distressed medical device companies. Read the rest of Dr. Muehler’s impressive bio here.

Dr. Muehler’s role as a strategic advisor to Popper and Company, along with Dr. Mills who we wrote about earlier this month, provides a wonderful opportunity for us to convey a truly global view of the industry on behalf of our clients. We’re especially excited about Dr. Muehler’s in-depth knowledge of the medical device marketplace, and look forward to featuring his insights via our blog. I was able to spend a few moments with Dr. Muehler recently and following are some of the highlights of our discussion about his background and experience:
CP: You were trained as a physician. How did you first enter the industry side of things? Was it a deliberate move from medicine to industry? Would you have done anything differently?

AM: When I went to medical school, what interested me and was exciting to me was the technology involved in health care. When I started in radiology – CAT scans were new, MRI was brand new – and the technology was of interest to me. After doing clinical work during the day, the most exciting time for me was after 5 p.m. when I could do new things with technology. So, I went to UCSF for a post doctorate fellowship to see what it was like to focus on technology all day. From there, I stayed with what I really like to do.

CP: You’ve engaged in many roles within the industry. Which was your favorite and why?

AM: I very much enjoyed serving as CEO of a medical device company dealing with diagnosis of and therapy control for osteoporosis. When I came in, the company was building large, expensive-to-develop devices. It was a difficult time. I was able to work with the people holding the technical expertise while at the same time I tried to understand the market, leveraging good people and positioning the company as a provider of software and algorithms, which was less expensive. Implementing change was at first a tough decision for the founder, but then he was supportive and we were successful. A year later, results of the new strategy were evident with an FDA approval of the software package. The employees were on board and the company was going in the right direction.

CP: Are there examples of business leaders others should emulate?

AM: There are lots of excellent leaders out there. Learn from them and take the best from each. As a leader, you have to have versatility and flexibility. You have to be able to listen and convince others—win their hearts and minds. You have to make tough decisions quickly and you have to adapt to situations with your own leadership style in a thoughtful way. And you must be careful to avoid generalizing. Examples from other business leaders work well in some situations but not others. You have to learn, but adapt as you go. And be aware of your own myopia sometimes as one often duplicates where you had success in the past. Don’t rely on assumptions of how it should be done.

CP: What’s your key business philosophy?

AM: I’ve mainly been involved in startups and early growth settings. I’ve met a lot of people who want to be involved in startups or form their own companies. I always tell them, it can be very rewarding. They usually say “I know” because they’ve seen examples of amassed wealth. But, I always warn people not to get involved in startups only because they believe it will lead to wealth. You’ll see that only one in five turn out to be successful and even then, it’s a rare example when one gets lost in wealth. Basically, you should get involved early so you can experience the excitement of a startup. Look back every two months or so and you’ll be amazed and how much you’ve contributed versus working in a larger company. It has to be more than the money. Enjoy what you do and where you are doing it. The financial rewards will come eventually.

We’re fortunate to have Dr. Muehler working along with us, lending his wealth of knowledge and international experience. We’ll provide more on his take on the differences in the device markets between the U.S. and EU soon. Until then, please feel free to let us know what you think about the European and U.S. markets for new medical technologies. Processes and legislation are constantly changing so it’s an ever-changing course. What agencies, trends, topics are you watching? Share your thoughts here.

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About the Author:

I founded Popper and Company with Ken Walz more than ten years ago to address inefficiencies in health care by helping life science companies develop and commercialize new technology. Today, the members of our growing team leverage their extensive knowledge of the tools and trends shaping all aspects of health care and its participants. Send me an email.