Roivant Sciences has swooped for another biopharma veteran to head up of one of its umbrella companies, the latest in a series of high-profile hires orchestrated by former hedge funder Vivek Ramaswamy.
The most recent hire is Dr. Jackie Fouse, the former president and COO of biotech giant Celgene, who will now be Executive Chairman of the skin disorder-focused Roivant firm Dermavant. Ramaswamy (a recent Fortune health care leaders honoree) has an intriguing approach to drug development. His outfit, Roivant, has been sniffing out and buying up experimental drugs that other biopharma companies either didn't have the money or the moxie to take through the regulatory process.
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These kinds of "abandoned" treatments have since been folded into the pipelines of Roivant's five different member firms, which concentrate on everything from Alzheimer's (Axovant) to women's health (Myovant) and other disease spaces. Most recently, Ramaswamy launched a fifth biotech called Urovant (focused on bladder diseases) with a boost from a treatment licensed from pharma giant Merck.
Fouse told Fortune that a combination of Dermavant's experimental pipeline and Roivant's unique approach to drug development is what drew her over to the company. She's not alone; Ramaswamy has also been able to sway the likes of former Medivation chief executive David Hung, who is now Axovant's CEO.
Roivant has plenty of skeptics. Ramaswamy made his first big splash on the scene with outsize, even record, IPOs for Axovant and Myovant. But he says there aren't currently any plans to take Dermavant or the other "Vant" companies public. "I don't think that's going to be the focus of our strategy going forward," Ramaswamy told Fortune in a phone interview, adding that Roivant firms have raised enough funds to fuel clinical trial needs. Besides, he says, his focus now is on recruiting the right talent to take these drugs across the regulatory finish line and into patients' hands.
"That's the ultimate goal," says Ramaswamy.