Oklahoma attorney helps with Mass. bioscience startup

By Clytie Bunyan | The Oklahoman

[ SEPTEMBER 5, 2010 – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK ] – Nearly two months ago, Euthymics Bioscience Inc., a clinical-stage startup in Cambridge, Mass., announced it had completed a series of financing that allowed it to acquire DOV Pharmaceutical Inc. and continue development of an antidepressant that’s intended for patients who do not respond adequately to other types of drugs.

It’s the kind of news we hear often and never think about how deals like that are done.

Here in Oklahoma City, a growing number of bioscience companies have emerged and continue to move from research settings at the University of Oklahoma and the Presbyterian Foundation Research Park to trial stages.

But the business end of deals here and elsewhere aren’t always done by Wall Street attorneys.

The Euthymics deal, for example, was made possible with input from Doug Branch at PHILLIPS MURRAH in Oklahoma City. Branch, who leads the law firm’s securities and high-tech practice groups, helped Euthymics navigate the waters of the venture capital world at a time when funding all but disappeared. It was a 20-month process that began “in the teeth of the financial distress of the economy. So that was a tough time to launch an idea, but within a few months, we were able to attract interest and successfully recruited some venture capital firms to round out $24 million in financing,” he said.

Branch has long-standing ties to Euthymics’ CEO Anthony McKinney, an OU microbiology graduate who Branch knew since McKinney was trying to develop technology at OU.

“It’s a fulfilling occupation because people often think of lawyers that’s part of a process that’s not constructive, part of some adversarial system, but this is a very rewarding job to be a part of something that’s very important in the lives of people,” Branch said.