Roche in Talks to Buy Stomach Drug from Roivant for $7B: Report

Roche Tower_iStock, olli0815

Pictured: Long-distance shot of Roche Tower/iStock, olli0815

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are big business, and Roche could be all in, according to a report that has the Swiss pharma in talks to acquire a late-stage candidate from Roivant Sciences for upwards of $7 billion. 

The deal—which would be one of the largest struck by newly seated CEO Thomas Schinecker—could be announced in the coming days, according to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news Thursday evening. Sources familiar with the talks cautioned that they could still break down and that another suitor could emerge, the WSJ reported.

The drug at the center of the rumored discussions is RVT-3101, an anti-TL1A antibody that recently showed positive results in a Phase IIb study in patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis (UC). After 56 weeks of treatment, 36% of participants who received the optimum dose of the drug achieved clinical remission, according to Roivant, which announced the results in June. This was a marked increase over the 29% who received the same dose at the 14-week mark. The data was from the trial’s chronic period, in which all patients received RVT-3101.

Roivant is developing RVT-3101 with Pfizer, with which it launched a new “Vant” to commercialize the drug in December 2022. A name for the subsidiary was not disclosed at the time. Pfizer holds a 25% equity position in the subsidiary, with commercial rights outside of the U.S. and Japan. It is unknown what would happen to Pfizer’s stake in a potential deal with Roche, according to WSJ.

Pfizer and Roivant are partners in another company called Priovant Therapeutics, created in September 2021 and centered around brepocitinib, a potential first-in-class dual inhibitor of TYK2 and JAK1 that aims to provide greater efficacy in multiple highly inflammatory autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Roche currently has assets in late-stage development for SLE and lupus nephritis, according to its online pipeline.

The market for UC and Crohn’s, often grouped as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), was valued at $17.3 billion in 2021 by Transparency Market Research. The group projected this number would rise to more than $34 billion by 2031. Growth Plus Reports puts this market value at nearly $40 billion. The diseases are suspected to be caused by an overreaction of the immune system to microorganisms in the digestive tract, which leads to inflammation.

Roivant was founded by Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy in 2014. Since then, it has spawned a series of “Vants”, including Myovant Sciences, Urovant Sciences, Enzyvant Therapeutics, Altavant Sciences and Spirovant Sciences. Ramaswamy resigned from Roivant’s board in February 2023 to focus on his presidential bid.

Heather McKenzie is a senior editor at BioSpace, focusing on neuroscience, oncology and gene therapy. You can reach her at heather.mckenzie@biospace.com. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @chicat08.

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