Startups

Vivek Ramaswamy strikes again, this time launching a Beijing-based biotech player with a pipeline

Another day, another startup at Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant. And this time he’s underscoring the global nature of the industry and his business strategy, as China’s biotech scene explodes with fresh cash and some familiar drugs.

Vivek Ramaswamy

This morning Roivant unveiled Sinovant along with CITICPE, a Chinese private equity group. This company is based in Beijing and Shanghai, and it’s been assembling an executive crew and pipeline for today’s announcement.

Sinovant has been taking some of Roivant’s cash reserves to build up a pipeline of 11 drugs, following an in-licensing strategy that is all the rage these days. And it comes with a special Ramaswamy twist, as the company looks to get started in Phase III on a slate of therapies that can be positioned for a relatively quick Asian launch.

The biotech has three top drugs:

  • Derazantinib, a fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor in global Phase III development for the treatment of a liver cancer — a big market in China — called intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Lefamulin, a late-stage antibiotic that has been studied for community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.
  • And RVT-802, brought in from sister company Enzyvant after that Roivant subsidiary filed for an FDA approval for a rare disease called DiGeorge Anomaly.

Canwen Jiang

Sinovant also just gained the rights to develop naronapride, a drug intended to treat irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.

In another classic Roivant move, Ramaswamy has recruited top talent for this latest biotech venture. Novartis vet Canwen Jiang — who ran global R&D groups for the pharma giant — will run the operation after years in the biopharma trenches, working on a slate of pivotal trials.

The companies aren’t talking numbers today, but Roivant doesn’t starve its companies of cash. Ramaswamy’s first big drug at Axovant — the original vant in what is now a growing group with 13 companies — was a notorious flop, but he has the best connections in the worldwide industry and a keen understanding for lining up billions in cash reserves.

The business plan here, says a Roivant spokesperson, is to find clinical-stage drugs at smaller biotechs and in-licensing them for development for the Chinese drug market. And there are more deals to come.

The co-founder is Xinan Chen, who’s been working on building new startups at Roivant.

 


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