In the wake of a drub­bing, Vivek Ra­maswamy gam­bles $116M on Ar­bu­tus’ hep B work

Over the last few weeks Ar­bu­tus $ABUS has shared a pos­i­tive snap­shot of da­ta from a mid-stage study of its he­pati­tis B ther­a­py and en­joyed a boost from Al­ny­lam’s big suc­cess with its late-stage study of patisir­an, an RNAi drug that us­es its de­liv­ery tech­nol­o­gy and may well spawn a roy­al­ty flow for the biotech. And to­day it’s adding to the streak of good news with the an­nounce­ment that Roivant’s Vivek Ra­maswamy — al­ready an in­vestor — is buy­ing deep­er in­to the com­pa­ny, in­vest­ing $116.4 mil­lion at a pre­mi­um rate to ac­quire pre­ferred shares in Ar­bu­tus.

The way Roivant makes this buy-in sound, the two com­pa­nies have been ham­mer­ing out a part­ner­ship in which Ra­maswamy’s com­pa­ny will col­lab­o­rate on the de­vel­op­ment of the he­pati­tis B pro­gram. But it’s still a bit vague what all that may en­tail.

The 32-year-old Ra­maswamy said in a state­ment that the al­liance leaves Roivant “pro­vid­ing strate­gic and op­er­a­tional sup­port to Ar­bu­tus, while al­so max­i­miz­ing the val­ue of Ar­bu­tus’ oth­er as­sets, in­clud­ing through po­ten­tial ad­di­tion­al in­vest­ment where re­quired.”

The “Vant” Squad from left to right: David Hung, Jack­ie Fouse, Vivek Ra­maswamy, Lynn Seely, and Alvin Shih. File Pho­to

Ra­maswamy is pay­ing $7.13 a share, a 15% pre­mi­um from Fri­day’s close, for the new stake.

In­vestors loved it, dri­ving up the stock by 16%.

Ra­maswamy — who saw the stock in his orig­i­nal port­fo­lio com­pa­ny Ax­o­vant $AX­ON crushed days ago on the de­ci­sive fail­ure of its Phase III Alzheimer’s drug — has raised close to $2 bil­lion. Most of that cash has been re­served for its sub­sidiary com­pa­nies, a grow­ing mix of pub­lic and pri­vate biotech ven­tures with a broad ar­ray of drugs and dis­ease tar­gets.

Ar­bu­tus — for­mer­ly called Tek­mi­ra, which piv­ot­ed away from Ebo­la and in­to hep B two years ago with the ac­qui­si­tion of On­Core from a group of Phar­mas­set vets — picked up a pos­i­tive snap­shot of bio­mark­er ac­tiv­i­ty for ARB-1467, re­port­ing a week ago that one co­hort of 12 pa­tients demon­strat­ed a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in serum HB­sAg lev­els for sev­er­al of those pa­tients giv­en bi-week­ly dos­ing. Re­searchers plan to use that de­sign in a pos­si­bly piv­otal study to launch in Q4.

Both ARB-1467 and Al­ny­lam’s patisir­an — the first RNAi ther­a­py to pass a Phase III test — use Ar­bu­tus’ nanopar­ti­cle de­liv­ery tech.

This is not one of Ra­maswamy’s clas­sic plays. His whole strat­e­gy cen­ters on res­cu­ing clin­i­cal-stage as­sets lan­guish­ing in the pipelines of the world’s biggest bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies and putting them through an ef­fi­cient late-stage ef­fort, ramp­ing up new drug prod­ucts bet­ter than any of the ma­jors. His first ef­fort at that, with a 5HT6 Alzheimer’s drug, proved a com­plete fail­ure.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ra­maswamy and Ar­bu­tus goes back some time. Forbes’ Matthew Her­p­er and Nathan Var­di re­port­ed two years ago — as Ra­maswamy was just get­ting start­ed in biotech in a big way — that the for­mer hedge fund play­er had “turned an $8 mil­lion pur­chase of sev­er­al drugs to treat the liv­er virus he­pati­tis B in­to a $110 mil­lion stake in Ar­bu­tus Bio­Phar­ma, a 1,275% pa­per re­turn.”

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA ce­ment Baven­cio blad­der can­cer win with OS da­ta — while carv­ing an­oth­er niche in rare can­cer

Pfizer and Merck KGaA have detailed the Phase III data that inspired FDA regulators to designate Bavencio a “breakthrough” for first-line advanced bladder cancer and offered an early glance at how the PD-L1 can help patients with a rare gynecological cancer — carving out niches in the checkpoint space for itself after being shut out of numerous others.

In JAVELIN Bladder 100, Bavencio led to a 31% reduction in risk of death compared to standard care alone. It also extended median survival by more than seven months — a historic feat in this setting, according to investigators at Queen Mary University of London.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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