Ex-Axovant crew at Arvelle ups Series A haul, deploying $200M-plus to commercialize epilepsy drug in Europe
One of the characteristic features of the sprawling biotech group Vivek Ramaswamy has built at Roivant is its ability to whip up big-money financing deals for its subsidiaries. Axovant was a prime example, raising $315 million in an IPO — a monster by 2015 and even today’s standards — with an Alzheimer’s pitch before a spectacular flop forced the company to replot its course directly and pivot to gene therapy.
But as the transformation was taking place, three of its top execs were keen to stay on the path of small molecule drugs tackling central nervous system diseases in the form of a new company. Arvelle Therapeutics, the Switzerland-based they founded, has retained a similar ability to attract sizable investments.
Arvelle disclosed today that it’s bagged $207.8 million in an A round after closing the final tranche. The syndicate features NovaQuest Capital Management, BRV Capital Management, LSP, H.I.G. BioHealth Partners, Andera Partners, F-Prime Capital, KB Investments and members of management.
The latest infusion registered at $42.7 million, almost a third of the initial commitment of $133.3 million.
Then there was the $74.5 million raised previously for “product financing,” likely centered around cenobamate, the foundational anti-seizure drug that Arvelle in-licensed from South Korea’s SK Biopharmaceuticals for $100 million when it first launched.
What triggered the latest tranche was the EMA’s acceptance of the marketing authorization application for the voltage-gated sodium channel blocker in late March — four months after the FDA OK’d it as Xcopri — the company said. The target indication is likewise the adjunctive treatment of focal-onset seizures in adults with epilepsy.
“We believe cenobamate has potential as a new therapeutic option for patients who continue to have seizures despite the use of available treatments,” Matthew Bullard at NovaQuest said in a statement.
One key statistic SK has touted is that 1 in 5 patients taking cenobamate in Phase III trials reported being seizure-free. The company has retained marketing rights around the world, including the US, China, Korea and Japan.
With all its funds in place, Arvelle said it will continue to expand its operations across Europe, “including key country-by-country hires in preparation of the European launch of cenobamate.”
Mark Altmeyer, the former chief commercial officer at Axovant, is Arvelle’s president and CEO.