Biotech Guru's Roivant Sciences Could Soon Double Its Headcount in North Carolina

Biotech Guru's Roivant Sciences Could Soon Double Its Headcount in North Carolina March 6, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

DURHAM, N.C. – Roivant BioSciences, which was founded by biotech guru Vivek Ramaswamy, is expanding its presence in Durham. The company is moving into a new 9,300 square-foot facility, which could allow Roivant to double the number of employees in the Bull City, the Durham Herald Sun reported.

Roivant currently employs 31 in Durham and occupies 2,700 square feet. The company, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, told the Herald Sun it anticipates employee growth to double by the end of the year.

Roivant has a number of therapies in late stage development, including interpirdine to treat mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease; relugolix to treat uterine fibroids, endometriosis and prostate cancer; RVT-901 for overactive bladder and RVT-802 for complete DiGeorge Syndrome. The company also has multiple drugs in early- to mid-stage development for a variety of indications, including dermatology, rare diseases and autism.

Under the leadership of Ramaswamy, Roivant has a unique approach to drug development. The company buys up drugs that have been abandoned by other companies for pennies on the dollar and tries to bring them new life. In a 2015 interview with Forbes, he said that many drugs were “cast aside” for reasons that have nothing to do with “underlying merits.” As an example, Axovant, a company Roivant spun out in 2014 with a focus on neurological disease, is developing RVT-101, a drug acquired from GlaxoSmithKline for $5 million. RVT-101 is a neurotransmitter targeted therapy that works through the release of acetylcholine. In October 2016, the company began screening patients for a Phase III trial in Alzheimer’s.

In an interview with the Herald Sun, Ramaswamy said he opted to expand in Durham due to the availability of talent. He said the area, which is part of the Research Triangle Park biotech hub, saw several layoffs in recent years, which has increased the amount of exceptional people looking for work.

Roivant is well financed, with approximately $1 billion in capital. While the larger pharma companies are streamlining their research and development businesses, Ramaswamy told the Herald Sun his company was expanding its R&D.

Roivant has been busy expanding. Over the past two years the company has spawned five different spinouts, including the aforementioned Axovant and Myovant Sciences , which has a focus on women’s health and prostate cancer. In 2016, Myovant raised $218 million from its IPO. In 2015 Axovant’s IPO brought in $315 million.

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