32-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy's company has a new take on drug development.
Lisa Lake — Getty Images
By Sy Mukherjee
June 6, 2017

Vivek Ramaswamy has done it again. The 31-year-old hedge-funder-turned-biotech wunderkind—whose approach to drug research and development has earned him both plenty of skeptics and a place on Fortune‘s 2017 list of leaders who are changing health care—is launching his fifth biotech company, Urovant, which will focus on urological disorders like overactive bladder.

“We are delighted to welcome another ‘Vant’ to our growing family of companies,” said Ramaswamy in a statement. “Urologic conditions such as overactive bladder adversely impact millions of individuals, and the current treatment options are unsatisfactory for many patients. Our aim is to provide patients with better options as quickly as possible.”

Urovant has struck a licensing deal with Merck which will give it access to late-stage overactive bladder treatment vibegron. The condition afflicts about 33 million Americans in some shape or form, according to the Urology Care Foundation.

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Ramaswamy is the founder and CEO of Roivant Sciences, which serves as an umbrella company for a variety of his life science outfits (which all end with the “Vant” moniker). He’s probably best known outside the biopharma sphere for executing some of the most impressive biotech IPOs in recent memory, including the $315 million public offering for Alzheimer’s and neurological disease-centered Axovant and a $218 million IPO for female health firm Myovant. (Skeptics argue that the model is unsustainable and creating massive valuations with little proof of ultimate success.)

Roivant also encompasses two other companies concentrating on skin conditions and rare disease, both of which are still private. Former Medivation CEO David Hung (whose company was snatched up by Pfizer for its prostate cancer drug Xtandi last year) was hired as Axovant’s new chief in April.

Ramaswamy’s modus operandi involves snatching up potentially promising experimental drugs that other companies (particularly big pharma firms) don’t have the resources to take into clinical trials, aren’t interested in because they don’t match up with a drug portfolio strategy, or have been deemed too low-reward/high-risk, as he explained to Fortune in an interview last month.

So what’s next? If the past three years are any indication, even more licensing agreements, experimental drug acquisitions, and high-profile hires.

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