Axovant Completes Reorganization, Adds to Management Team
After Axovant Sciences’ spectacular clinical trial failure in September 2017, the company has been reorganizing. Today it announced it had completed that reorganization by adding to its executive team and Scientific Advisory Board.
Axovant is one of Vivek Ramswamy’s biotech companies. It was built around the drug intepirdine for Alzheimer’s disease, which it acquired for $5 million from GlaxoSmithKline. The drug had a favorable safety and tolerability profile, and in a Phase IIb clinical trial, showed immediate and sustained efficacy over placebo. But it had been abandoned by GSK after four failed clinical trials. Ramaswamy believed the company could revitalize the drug in a narrower patient population.
However, the drug failed to meet its co-primary efficacy endpoints in the Phase III trial, with the company stating there was “essentially no difference between the intepirdine and placebo arms in change from baseline in activities of daily living.”
In April 2017, David Hung, the founder, president and chief executive officer of Medivation, took over Axovant as chief executive officer. He had sold Medivation to Pfizer in September 2016 for $14 billion.
Not long after the clinical trial failure, Hung stepped down, replaced by Pavan Cheruvu in February 2018.
As part of today’s announcement, Gavin Corcoran will join Axovant as executive vice president of Research & Development. Michael Hayden has been appointed senior scientific advisor and chairman of the newly established Scientific Advisory Board.
Corcoran is currently chief medical officer at Allergan. He was previously chief medical officer of Actavis. Hayden most recently was president of Global R&D and chief scientific officer at Teva. Prior to Teva, he founded Aspreva Pharmaceuticals and several other biotech companies.
“I am pleased to welcome Gavin and Michael to the Axovant team,” Cheruvu said in a statement. “Since starting as CEO in February, I have been focused on transforming Axovant into a leaner organization, introducing heightened standards of quality and excellence throughout the business, and establishing a new pipeline strategy. We are now poised for growth, and I am excited to have Gavin and Michael join us as we look forward to expanding our pipeline in the coming months.”
Axovant began its reorganization in February 2018 with the goal of simplifying its structure, cutting costs and streamline business processes. It cuts its internal headcount by about 43 percent and “increased the use of the Roivant platform to supplement internal capabilities,” whatever that means. Most of the staffers affected by the cuts transferred to other positions at the Roivant family of companies.
“Roivant supports Axovant’s plans for pipeline expansion and organizational transformation,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “We are committed to hiring and developing high-caliber talent, and we were pleased to support many of Axovant’s employees in finding new roles within the Vant family. I am excited about the new direction that Axovant is taking.”
Axovant currently has two compounds it is developing. They are nelotanserin, a highly selective inverse agonist of the 5HT2A receptor and RVT-104, an early-stage asset. Nelotanserin is being evaluated in patients with Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) or Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD) who are experiencing REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). RVT-104 is a proposed combination of a higher than presently approved dose of cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine and a peripherally active muscarinic receptor antagonist. It is being studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.