December 31, 2020
More Than Skin Deep
PA Zecharia Lind, Dermatologist and Inventor
Y. Sekula and P. Nussbaum
If it’s late in the evening and you can’t reach him, he’s probably busy giving emergency stitches to a child, teenager, or adult with a serious cut. A unique and remarkable member of our local medical community, PA Zecharia Lind is a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, as well as a dermatologist and inventor. His story is one of kindness and inspiration, challenge and persistence, and ultimately, success.
A career and a calling
Growing up in Brooklyn, Lind was raised with an appreciation for all members of Klal Yisrael. After learning in Eretz Yisrael in Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, he married his wife Raizy, an American who grew up in Eretz Yisrael, where they lived for a few months.
The couple returned to the States to pursue their educations at Touro College in Brooklyn. Lind earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology combined with training to be a physician assistant (PA), with a focus on dermatology. He further studied dermatology at Downstate University, and was a post-graduate resident at the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Since his teenage years, Lind had been a lifeguard, swim instructor, and Hatzolah member; a career in the medical field was a natural outgrowth of those experiences. Specifically, Lind was drawn to the specialty of dermatology because of its exciting range of patients of all ages and populations, with a variety of needs and treatments—general, cosmetic, surgical, and medical.
Lind worked for several years at his first job, a private dermatology practice in Brooklyn. He later worked with another dermatologist for almost 20 years while he lived with his family in the Passaic/Clifton community.
He was accepted to medical school, but PA school was the right decision for him and his family at that time. He felt he had so much to offer, which he has indeed shared with thousands of patients over the course of two decades. He feels “content and thankful to Hashem for putting me on the right path on this wonderful journey.”
Lind moved to Toms River about five years ago so that one of his children could benefit from a specialized educational program in Lakewood. The family has enjoyed meeting new neighbors from various communities and using their spacious backyard to host kiruv events. He reveals, “Lakewood is different from most other communities. It’s a big mix—people who are learning and people who are working. Only over here, when I’m working mostly with Yidden, I feel I have more of an achrayus.” He feels Lakewood is a place where one can make a tremendous kiddush Hashem and, chalilah, the reverse.
“A non-Jewish patient was recently in the office,” he shares. “After she left, she told us, ‘I heard negative things about your community and I believed them! But now I came here, and I’m blown away. It’s so pleasant here, and I see that you are totally different!’ She was so thrilled and said, ‘I’m going to post my experience here online and how nice and beautiful Jews really are.’”
Lind notes, “I feel that if I came here just to give off that impression, the kiddush Hashem alone is worth it. It means a lot to me.”
Helping and healing
Another motivation in moving south was to open his own practice with Dr. Steven Weissman, his “partner and friend.” The office of Ocean Dermatology is spacious and modern, and, despite posters on the walls exhibiting various forms of skin conditions, quite inviting.
According to their website, “Ocean Dermatology has grown to become one of the leading dermatology clinics in South Jersey, specializing in all kinds of medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology.”
Lind explains, “We are here to service people. It’s good to help those who need us.” He and Weissman work hard, often late into the night, patiently assisting as many patients as possible.
One patient posted an online review saying, “It is such a pleasure to be treated by PA Lind. He is extremely knowledgeable about skin issues and treatment for each situation. He takes the time to explain medical jargon in layman’s terms. His bedside manner is top-notch, and he provides alternative treatment for each individual case.”
“My favorite part of being a dermatologist is the ability to help patients,” Lind says. “We sometimes find skin cancers that are one hundred percent curable since we found them at an early stage. Patients can come in complaining about a rash, and we’ll find something on their legs, such as a suspicious lesion. We’ll do a biopsy—and it can sometimes be cancerous…”
This should be a lesson to all: if in doubt, check it out!
A problem for patients
Over the years in the dermatology field, Lind encountered a big problem. “Patients would come to the office with a pretty common ailment, skin tags. (A benign growth on the skin, usually on the neck, shoulders, or back.) Insurance usually does not cover the cost of having them removed. It ends up being very expensive,” he explains. It can cost upward of $200 per visit, depending on the situation. Skin tags can grow back even after they are removed, causing years of expensive and uncomfortable office visits. Lind wanted to change that.
“Ten years ago, I told a friend that I had a crazy idea. I wanted to create a device that would allow people to remove skin tags from the comfort of their home, without paying a dermatologist’s fee.
He told me, ‘Zecharia, it’s not so crazy. It actually sounds like a great idea. You have to bring it to the market. You have to patent it.’”
Lind is candid describing his introduction to the invention industry.
“I had no experience whatsoever,” he shares. “I had a conceptual idea. I knew how I wanted it to look, but I didn’t know exactly how to do it. And I knew that it would cost a lot of money.” He would soon find out that it would cost serious money. And he didn’t have it.
The average price of an international patent (to ensure that someone cannot copy someone else’s idea) can cost between seven hundred fifty and forty thousand dollars! “It was a daunting task. I partnered with a CEO to establish a company for our device. We struggled to raise the funds. We went to Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlit”a and Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a. We asked for brachos. We davened. And we raised money from friends, family, and investors.”
Each country requires its own patent, which can cost between 2,000 and 4,000 dollars per country. Different countries offer differently-sized markets; the largest ones are the US and China; and in Europe, Russia and the UK. Patents must be renewed at different time intervals, which also has its costs. If a small country proves to have only a small market for the product, the inventor may decide to drop the patent there, as there is a very slim chance of anyone copying the product.
Claritag has both a design patent and a utility patent. It is managed by a company of patent attorneys based in Israel, who do the legwork to monitor the patents and the renewals in each country. In today’s competitive world, is Lind concerned others may steal his idea? The Claritag has very specific details; even though some may try, it would not be simple to replicate them.
The Claritag is a sleek device that looks somewhat like very large, sophisticated tweezers. It uses cryogenic material, extremely cold liquid that is 25 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing, which converts to a gas. Lind explains, “The liquid gets activated onto absorbent foam pads on the device, which then encapsulate the skin tag so that it freezes and turns white from the cold. It falls off up to a week later.”
Since skin tags are often recurring, the product is usable for up to 12 treatments. Claritag is, therefore, a wise long-term investment, as the patient can purchase and repeatedly use the device independently.
The package includes a high-tech user manual, which is a mini-video the size of a business card. Lind explains, “The success of our device is based on people’s experiences, so we had to make it as foolproof as possible.”
The product’s website reassures patients that Claritag was created after more than “ten years of dedicated research and innovation, using cutting-edge proprietary technology.” Jeremy Josephson, CEO of DGI Technologies, the manufacturer of Claritag and other cosmetic skincare products, explains, “Some people are aware of our product and have benefitted immensely from it, while others are reluctant to try an online/over-the-counter product.” He explains, “We understand the need for awareness and caution, which is why we went this route. We want everyone to feel secure and benefit from all the work put in.”
People like it, Lind affirms, and most importantly, it works.
Aside from the issue of funding, he needed to find the right people who could catapult his dream device into the hands of customers.
“We struggled to find the right attorneys and designers. We had the device designed completely from top to bottom to appeal to the patient, which cost one hundred thousand dollars,” Lind says.
The next hurdle was obtaining clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. “We hired a team of FDA consultants to help us create a company based on a certain high standard. We needed to be a licensed medical device company, with government regulators coming down to inspect the facilites every few months.”
FDA clearance and approval
“We created the device,” Lind continues, “and proved its safety and efficacy. We demonstrated that it is relatively painless, and that it is the first of its kind in the over-the-counter (OTC) market for skin tag treatment in the United States.”
Claritag received both FDA clearance and approval. It is currently available on Amazon and Walmart, where about 30,000 units have been sold. Many more units are being produced, where they will soon be sold in medical offices and on the shelves of major pharmacies in the US and abroad.
Lind is not directly involved with the day-to-day business of his invention. Josephson is responsible for actively pursuing relationships with companies and facilitating sales. They also hired a professional marketing group that promoted the product to major news outlets such as NBC, FOX, and CBS. The ads were tracked and “made a buzz”; there was a proven increase in sales after the media publicity.
Is Lind afraid his own product will put his and other dermatologist offices out of business? “Not quite.” He chuckles. Skin tags comprise merely one issue that the office treats, and patients will usually consult with their doctor before trying the home treatment.
Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 impacted Claritag. Though the product had been heading quickly in the right direction, things have slowed down while markets react and companies wait. There are currently no trade shows at which to present the invention, and corporations are not ready to spend on new acquisitons. One benefit of quarantine, however, may have been increased usage by patients at home.
Lind has more plans coming down the pipeline. “We’re coming out with something for acne, to help diminish those painful pimples that teenagers can get on their face, chest, and back. It will also be a treatment to use at home.” Other future plans include products to be used on warts, scars, toenail fungus, and molloscum.
Lind and his partners are currently in talks with several major pharmaceutical companies who want to distribute Claritag through their private labels together with their other household-name products, perhaps eventually offering a buy-out for full ownership. Lind’s ultimate goal is for a major company to buy Claritag so he can focus on developing more “innovative, safe, and effective” products to treat patients’ dermatological needs.
Process and perspective
Reflecting on his journey, Lind shares, “There’s a big world out there. I found a niche for a unique product that people can use. Patients appreciate it, and they tell others about it, which is rewarding. It’s also cool for people I know to say, ‘I know the guy who made that.’”
But he also endured many ups and downs. The process was a massive undertaking, and they changed their plans constantly—and almost gave up. “We made a lot of mistakes. We made friends and lost friends.”
After years of trial and error and learning from experience, Lind is offering to help others navigate the maze of inventions and patents. “Inventing something unique and bringing it to market is rare and rewarding. If someone out there has an idea for an invention and wants to build a business, I’ll be happy to help as a mentor, to guide them through the process. We have designers, molders, patent attorneys, etc. We can put you in touch with the right people.”
After many years in their field, some professionals may become bored, feeling they’ve reached a plateau. Lind feels like he has received a new lease on life and encourages others to channel their expertise into a new direction.
“I never thought I could accomplish all that, but once I did, now it’ll be much easier to continue developing new products. After all those years, now the door is open for new opportunities, and it is very exciting.”
He acknowledges that it is risky, and that it indeed took years for him and his partners to start seeing profits. Inspired readers should not run to quit their day job just yet, but should still jump in. Lind encourages future entrepreneurs, “Once you have your goal and idea, go with it and try to bring it to market. Don’t be afraid.”
Lind’s journey is proof that with hard work and siyatta d’Shmaya, one can pursue and fulfill his dreams.
PA Lind can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.claritag.com.