Uni­corn hunter Vivek Ra­maswamy has cooked up a new deal with As­traZeneca. But what is it?

Some­thing’s cook­ing at Vivek Ra­maswamy’s Roivant Sci­ences. We just can’t say ex­act­ly what it is.

This morn­ing Ra­maswamy put out word that he’s bagged an ex­per­i­men­tal drug from As­traZeneca. He’s just not say­ing pub­licly what it is, where it’s po­si­tioned in the clin­ic or, for now, how it fits in­to the pipelines at the Roivant com­pa­nies.

Here’s what we do know.

As­traZeneca has hand­ed over glob­al rights to an un­spec­i­fied drug “out­side of As­traZeneca’s main ther­a­py ar­eas” for an un­spec­i­fied deal pack­age. In a state­ment, Ra­maswamy said this was the first such deal he’s done with As­traZeneca and he hopes for many more to fol­low.

In the ab­sence of clar­i­ty, I’ll fill in with some spec­u­la­tive analy­sis.

As­traZeneca has been sell­ing off a whole line of non-core drug as­sets in the last cou­ple of years. The pri­ma­ry fo­cus has been to gar­ner some ad­di­tion­al rev­enue as the com­pa­ny looks to pull off a ma­jor turn­around, which is still far from fin­ished. And the phar­ma gi­ant has been will­ing to get cre­ative about stay­ing fo­cused on can­cer and a few key ar­eas. A few years ago, CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot de­cid­ed to spin out an un­want­ed R&D group fo­cused on an­tibi­otics and fund­ed the A round when he couldn’t find a buy­er.

Ra­maswamy, mean­while, has made a busi­ness out of pick­ing up shelved as­sets in bio­phar­ma pipelines around the world, spin­ning them out in­to new com­pa­nies. His first deal was for an Alzheimer’s drug from Glax­o­SmithK­line, which he bagged for on­ly $5 mil­lion and used to launch the first of his vants, Ax­o­vant $AX­ON.

It turns out, though, that that drug was worth even less, fail­ing a Phase III and putting a cloud over Roivant’s strat­e­gy even though there are now 6 com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing un­der the um­brel­la group. The group al­so in­cludes the new Data­vant, which was set up to find new drugs in the pipeline to las­so.

Ra­maswamy has raised close to $2 bil­lion — in­clud­ing a re­cent $1.1 bil­lion from Soft­Bank — so he has plen­ty of cash to gam­ble with. And new deals now, along with new com­pa­nies — and the promi­nent bio­phar­ma ex­ecs he likes to re­cruit like David Hung and Lynn Seely — will help re­fo­cus at­ten­tion af­ter the big set­back in Alzheimer’s.

Ra­maswamy is not shy about pro­mot­ing his biotechs and the deals he does, but he sticks to his own sched­ule–or per­haps in this case with As­traZeneca’s wish­es.

Im­age: Vivek Ra­maswamy Get­ty

John Hood [file photo]

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On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

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CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

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