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

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

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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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The Avance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

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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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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.

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.

Look­ing to move past an R&D fi­as­co, Ipsen poach­es their new CEO from Sanofi

Ipsen has turned to another Paris-based biopharma company for its next CEO.

Sanofi Pasteur chief David Loew — who’s been leading one of the most advanced efforts to develop vaccines for Covid-19 — is making the journey to Ipsen, 5 months after David Meek jumped ship to run a startup in late-stage development.

Loew arrives as Ipsen works to get back on track with their rare bone disease drug palovarotene, picked up in the $1.3 billion Clementia buyout, which was slammed with a partial hold after researchers observed cases of “early growth plate closure” in patients under the age of 14. But they are pushing ahead with the over-14 crowd after writing down slightly more than half of its initial development.

Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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