Mr. Free began his career with Dental Research, the company responsible for the INTERPLAK toothbrush, which paved the way for the multi-billion-dollar electric toothbrush industry. After Bausch + Lomb purchased the company, Mr. Free became the Director, National Sales Admin., Professional Services, Consumer Services and Tele sales for Bausch Oral Health, where he managed and led the Professional Sales Field and Tele sales teams.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Free was recruited to work for Circa Pharmaceuticals. Prior to James joining the company, Circa was the largest manufacturer of generic drugs until a dissent decree from the FDA forced all of its products from the market. Mr. Free was hired to help rebuild Circa and earn back its credibility with the FDA and Wall Street investors. He would go on to lead a team that converted Circa to a contract manufacturer. Mr. Free was later pivotal in convincing Pfizer to conduct work with Circa. This along with other high-profile clients resulted in the company being able to receive clearance from the FDA to file regulatory applications once more.
Mr. Free credits his time at Circa for teaching him the nuances of the pharmaceutical industry. His newly acquired pharmaceutical education and experience would serve him well after Watson Labs eventually purchased Circa and Mr. Free began his role as Director of Research and Development Project Management and Planning for the California-based pharmaceutical company. Once he was aboard, the company purchased several companies in the span of two years. Mr. Free was charged with integrating the R&D and commercialization departments of these acquired companies, a task which included deciding which incoming programs to prioritize and which to divest.
By the mid-1990s, Mr. Free had earned a reputation for navigating pharmaceutical companies through uncertain and turbulent times. This reputation took Mr. Free to Somerset Pharmaceuticals, which hired him to evaluate its existing R&D program and determine what path forward the company should take. Mr. Free helped the company create a more refined and focused drug portfolio, and he would go on to serve as the company’s Director of Sales & Marketing for the next seven years.
After his achievements at Somerset, Mr. Free moved to Raleigh, NC, and formed the biotech drug development company CeNeRx in 2005. Here, as Chief Operations Officer and co-owner, Mr. Free forged a professional relationship with CRC as a client, with CRC assisting CeNeRx in most of its studies during a 10-year period. Mr. Free would later merge CeNeRx with a commercial company and create SMG Pharmaceuticals, where he served as CEO.
Throughout his career, Mr. Free has served as a C-level executive for 11 successful companies in total. He has also managed several successful programs that span a diverse spectrum of disease states, with a focus on CNS, pain, anti-viral, dental, dermatology, diagnostics, and animal health. He has firsthand experience in filing multiple IND, NDA, and ANDA submissions that received subsequent approval. Additionally, he has overseen several successful commercial launches for CNS and dermatology drugs.
Mr. Free currently sits on the Board of Directors for Virokyne Therapeutics, an early-stage antiviral development company, and ZoonCo, a clinical stage animal health oncology company.