Dermavant Taps Former GSK Executive as CSO, Licenses New Therapy


Dermavant Sciences, a company founded by biotech guru Vivek Ramaswamy, tapped former GlaxoSmithKline dermatology division executive David Rubenstein as its new chief scientific officer.

While at GSK Rubenstein headed up the company’s discovery and preclinical development programs in dermatology. Dermavant, part of Ramaswamy’s “Vant team of companies,” also tapped a number of other executives to strengthen its leadership team.

In addition to Rubenstein, the Basel, Switzerland-based company also hired Richard Peterson as its chief financial officer; Ariel D. Jasie as the new chief business & strategy officer; and Chris Van Tuyl as the company’s general counsel.

Retired Celgene alum Jacqualyn A. Fouse, who now serves as executive chair of Dermavant, said the hiring of Rubenstein and the others will help the company advance development of a “promising treatment for hyperhidrosis” it licensed from TheraVida, Inc.

“I'm proud of the progress we've made in building a diverse pipeline and I look forward to continuing to build Dermavant into the industry leader in medical dermatology,” Fouse said in a statement.

Not only did Dermavant see new leadership, the company also strengthened its pipeline by licensing RVT-504 (previously THVD-102), an investigational drug for the treatment of multi-focal hyperhidrosis. Dermavant said it secured rights for development and commercialization. Dermavant acquired the mid-stage treatment from TheraVida for an upfront payment, milestone payments and royalties – all of which were undisclosed.

In 2016 TheraVida reported Phase II data from a small trial of THVD-102, now RVT-504, for the treatment of primary focal hyperhidrosis. The study pitted THVD-102, a combination of oxybutynin and pilocarpine, versus placebo and oxybutynin alone. Trial data showed there were no statistically significant differences between THVD-102 and oxybutynin in PFH efficacy, the company said. While there wasn’t much of a difference in the profuse sweating, TheraVida reported patients had a significant drop in dry mouth.

The partial efficacy for dry mouth of THVD-102 from that trial may have been what was appealing to Ramaswamy. The biotech guru 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.

Under the direction of Rubenstein and the other newly-tapped members of the leadership team, Dermavant may be able to succeed in developing an oral treatment for hyperhidrosis. The most common form of the disorder is primary focal hyperhidrosis in which sweat glands in the hands, underarms, face, groin, and feet are chronically overactive in the absence of physical activity or an increase in temperature.

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