Targeting Eye Disease from a Doctor’s Perspective – Lexitas Pharma CEO George Magrath, live from NYSE

IPO Edge hosted a fireside chat from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with George Magrath, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Lexitas Pharma. Dr. Magrath, who continues to practice medicine part time, spoke to IPO Edge Editor-in-Chief John Jannarone about investments in pharma and life sciences companies, how ophthalmic startups are different than other pharma startups and provided advice about funding an ophthalmic company.


Hello I’m John General and editor-chief of IPO Edge very happy to be back in the New York Stock Exchange we have a really really interesting guest uh right next to me here we have Dr George McGrath who’s the CEO of Lexitas Pharma Services we and they specialize in ophthalmics we’re going to dig into that in just a second um George welcome to the program

John thank you for having us

so George I want to start tell us okay tell us about the company um and um what that name came from Lexitas

Oh sure so Lexitas is a is a clinical research organization specialized in Ophthalmology so what we do is we help partner with ophthalmic companies companies are trying to progress medicines or devices through clinical development to help them run clinical trials navigate the regulatory pathway and ultimately prove whether or not their drug or device is safe and efficacious for patients

Gotcha so George you’ve got a really interesting background so let’s spend a little time on that so you are a doctor and a CEO you actually practice and treat patients tell us about your background and how you wound up at the helm of this company were you a doctor first how did that work out

Well so yeah so I think the Common Thread through my career is that I’ve I’ve been very interested in health care and trying to be as impactful as I can in that in that area and so that started with me becoming an ophthalmologist and getting into Vision Care and um and and practicing from there I really went in and I I worked for a while here in New York as anequity analyst before going to a pharmaceutical company called hovion where we developed a number of products there when I was at hobio and I worked with lexitas for six years as our service provider and they ran our clinical trials and so a natural transition Point came up in my life and I was able to come to lexitas which has been a miraculous thing really the beautiful thing about lexitas is you know I’ve been on the capital allocation side I’ve been on the drug development side and now I get to really work with a lot of different products rather than just one so at any one time we’re working with a number of of great companies that are that are really doing amazing science

So tell me how to do you juggle treating patients and running the company one of your colleagues is just telling me that you’ve been known to show up on a zoom call in medical scrubs

I’ve done that once or twice but um but typically it’s it’s pretty firewalled and um and my practice has my practice has titrated down as I’ve gotten more into uh into other things that have allowed me to really leverage um my impact on patients to uh to Beyond just one treating payment patient at a time I truly haven’t been able to stop practicing just because it’s such a love and it’s just such an amazing thing to privilege to be able to do and and I really cherish that

That’s great so you’re you’re practicing at a hospital down in Charleston right


All right it’s part it’s part time great great um

So you know this whole world of biotech for outsiders can be a little bit tricky to navigate tell us what you know the ophthalmics game is like and how it’s different from other parts of the biotech world

Yeah this is something we’re we’re seeing more and more of as as the science becomes more complex as the regulatory pathway becomes more complex as clinical trials become more complex really Niche providers have have have been really helpful to the industry as a whole so whether it’s lexitas and ophthalmics or other companies and other therapeutic areas it’s it’s really been a great thing because it allows you to bring that true expertise that is very specified on the project at hand to the companies

Gotcha um tell us um if you’ve got any predictions for what’s going on out there in you know the healthcare and and biotech world as far as investing are you seeing any any shifts underway at the moment

Well we certainly just like the rest of the world 2022 saw a decrease in funding particularly for smaller companies luckily the larger Pharma companies had very strong balance sheets and continued innovating but what we’re seeing now is that is that pick back up so we’re seeing a lot of early stage companies now being funded it’s really coming back and and it’s a wonderful thing to to see is the is the rebound of that sector

Would you would you be able to offer any advice to people who are thinking about funding a company like yours or investing in in this space generally

Oh sure if you’re investing in in small in small to mid-sized biotech or if you’re developing new products I think I think it is really important to make sure that you marry the science and marry the expertise and have a deep understanding of exactly what you’re going after a lot of a lot of of the great products that we work with and the great teams that we work with have just an immense understanding and immense track record in in the industry and so I think it’s really important to keep everything therapeutic area focused and to really dive into the patients and the diseases that you’re trying to treat

Great now tell me about your investors in the company do you engage them regularly are these people who are Specialists and understand what you’re doing

Yeah well this is actually a wonderful story so we uh we were a a self-funded company for the first 10 years of the companies


and then last year a little over a year ago we were required by a private Equity company called qhp capital okay and qhp capital was select was was selected by lexitas it was you know they selected us but we also selected them because of their specialty in Pharma Services right and they actually have a number of companies in their in their portfolio that are similar to us um and are and are in the same sector we are we thought that was very important the other thing that they brought to to lexitas was was a true um a true transparent scalable um management system and so we engage with them at least monthly sometimes more than that as they’re helping us figure out how to organize ourselves as we scale from a a smaller company to to a larger company that we are today all right it’s been wonderful experience with them

Well terrific um George Dr McGrath thanks for joining us this is really insightful um and I’m glad you’re up here with me in New York City here at the New York Stock Exchange

John we really appreciate it thanks a lot

John General with ipohedge signing off