Deals, Venture

Metavant makes a debut: Vivek Ramaswamy launches biotech #7 and builds a diabetes pipeline with Ligand deal

Vivek Ramaswamy

Just because David Hung recently left one of Vivek Ramaswamy’s Vant subsidiaries shortly after its lead therapy imploded in a failed pivotal study for Alzheimer’s is no reason for the multibillion-dollar outfit to stop doing deals and setting up new biotechs.

Ramaswamy is forking over $20 million in cash and promising $513.8 million in milestones to grab a new diabetes drug from Ligand with Phase II data ready to roll. Ligand spelled out the terms of the deal in an SEC filing today as Roivant dropped the news that it is now ramping up biotech #7: Metavant.

That fits with our story flagging the new name as Roivant sticks with a strategy of angling straight into late-stage development work in a slate of different disease categories. Ramaswamy has raised more than $2.7 billion for his deal machine, including a $1.1 billion injection from SoftBank recently. At this rate, he still has plenty of cash to commit.

In this new deal Ramaswamy is adding to the pipeline with LGD-6972, a glycogen receptor inhibitor that could offer a new approach to controlling blood glucose levels in diabetics. Researchers will roll out data from a mid-stage study at the 78th annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association being held in Orlando from June 22-26, 2018.

That’s about as high risk as they come in this business. Late-stage studies in diabetes are among the most expensive in the industry’s pipeline, which is why a few major league heavyweights dominate the field.

Ramaswamy agreed to pay Poxel $50 million in cash and up to $600 million in milestones to take their diabetes drug into Phase III in the world’s biggest markets. The Merck KGaA spinout (EPA: $POXEL) garnered substantial attention for its successful Phase IIb trial in Japan of imeglimin, tracking hemoglobin A1c reductions of 0.52%, 0.94% and 1.00% for the 500 mg, 1000 mg and 1500 mg dose twice-daily.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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