Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant is undergoing a self-imposed shakeup, laying off a chunk of its staff and shifting others to its subsidiaries. The company has launched two new business units and a new startup as part of the overhaul: two units that will manage new startup creations under the Roivant family, and one drug company with a pulmonary arterial hypertension med in hand.
The news comes months after Roivant’s subsidiary Axovant imploded in the face of a late-stage Alzheimer’s flop. As part of the reorganization, Roivant has laid off 10% of its staff, the company said in a statement. That includes mainly HR, IT, and accounting professionals doing “central support” functions, Roivant said. When asked for details, Roivant said 67 employees were let go (out of roughly 700 employed across the Roivant family of companies), and 125 were assigned to its subsidiaries. Unnamed sources familiar with the matter told FierceBiotech the shakeup was a “bloodbath.”
“We continue to hire in scientific and business functions at Roivant and across the Vant family; however, key operational functions will be hired primarily at the Vants going forward,” a company spokesman said in an email.
In a Tuesday announcement, Roivant said its formed two new business units to churn out new startups and push early-stage science forward. First up, it created Roivant Pharma to focus on “end-to-end biopharmaceutical company creation in new therapeutic areas.” Mayukh Sukhatme, formerly Roivant’s chief business officer, will head that group up as president.
Second, Roivant launched Roivant Health, a new business unit focused on launching companies that push medicines to “emerging markets and improve the process of developing and commercializing new medicines through the application of technology.” For that arm, Benjamin Zimmer, who oversaw the launch of Datavant while head of special projects at Roivant, will serve as president.
“I am excited to elevate several of Roivant’s talented leaders to new roles that will enable them to tackle new challenges,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “Our goal is to deliver transformative innovation in healthcare. Going forward, we will expand the scope of our focus to include the advancement of potentially transformative assets into clinical development, even if they are at earlier stages of development than much of our pipeline to date.”
At the same time as all this reorganization, Roivant also noted that its launched a company called Altavant Sciences. The company will be developing a drug called RVT-1201, a potential treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and other indications. Altavant will be led by CEO William Symonds, who’s been in senior leadership at Roivant since its 2014 inception, most recently as chief development officer. You might know Symonds from his work overseeing the development of Sovaldi and Harvoni for hep C while at Pharmasset and Gilead.
“The standard of care for PAH remains insufficient,” Symonds said in a statement. “I look forward to directing the newest member of the Roivant family as we develop RVT-1201 in a thoughtful, rigorous, and efficient manner that draws on best practices developed at Roivant in areas including patient engagement, the use of technology in trials, and the analysis of clinical trial results.”
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