BASEL, Switzerland and SAN DIEGO, Sept. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Roivant Sciences today announced the launch of Respivant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on improving the lives of patients suffering from serious respiratory diseases. Respivant will be led by Chief Executive Officer Bill Gerhart, Executive Vice President for Clinical and Regulatory Ahmet Tutuncu, MD, PhD, and Executive Vice President for Development and Manufacturing Pravin Soni, PhD.
Respivant's board of directors will be chaired by Frank Torti, MD, who serves as the Vant Investment Chair at Roivant Pharma. Dr. Torti will be joined on the board by Mr. Gerhart and Myrtle Potter, who serves as the Vant Operating Chair at Roivant Pharma.
Respivant's pipeline is anchored by RVT-1601, an inhaled therapeutic being developed for the treatment of chronic cough in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). RVT-1601 is a mast cell stabilizer with pleotropic immune modulating properties delivered directly to the lungs via a handheld aerosol device that produces a soft mist for patients to conveniently inhale. In a Phase 2a clinical trial, RVT-1601 demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in cough frequency among IPF patients after 14 days of treatment. Respivant plans to initiate a Phase 2b study for RVT-1601 in the first quarter of 2019.
"Almost all IPF patients suffer from a dry, persistant chronic cough, and for many of them this cough can have a debilitating physical and psychosocial impact on their quality of life," stated Mr. Gerhart. "Based on the positive results in our Phase 2a study, we are very excited about the potential for developing the first approved therapy for this leading cause of poor quality of life in IPF patients."
Mr. Gerhart has over 25 years of experience in launching, financing, and building companies based on promising technologies. Prior to Respivant, Mr. Gerhart was co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Patara Pharma, which conducted the initial development of RVT-1601. Prior to Patara, he was President and CEO of Elevation Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based biotech company he founded in 2008 that developed a new inhaled therapy for patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), now available as Lonhala® Magnair®. Elevation was acquired in 2012 by Sunovion, a subsidiary of Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma. Prior to Elevation, Mr. Gerhart was President and CEO of Mpex Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Axcan) from 2002 to 2007, developer of Quinsair®, an inhaled antibiotic for the treatment of cystic fibrosis patients. Mr. Gerhart received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Dr. Tutuncu has over 25 years of medical and industry experience. Dr. Tutuncu was most recently co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Patara Pharma. Prior to Patara, he was co-founder and CMO of Elevation Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Elevation, Dr. Tutuncu was Vice President of Medical Affairs at Verus Pharmaceuticals. He received his PhD in Respiratory Pathophysiology from Erasmus University Rotterdam and his MD from the University of Istanbul.
Dr. Soni has more than 30 years of experience developing innovative products, including 20 years in senior management roles leading the development, manufacture, and registration of novel drug, device, and combination medical products. Dr. Soni was most recently co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Patara Pharma. Prior to Patara, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Elevation Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Elevation, he was Vice President of Product Research and Development at Alexza Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Soni earned his PhD in Polymer Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
Ms. Potter serves as Vant Operating Chair for Roivant Pharma. She previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Myrtle Potter & Company and President and Chief Operating Officer of Genentech. Prior to Genentech she was president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's U.S. Cardiovascular and Metabolic business. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and serves on the university's board of trustees. She also serves on the boards of Rite Aid and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and previously served on the boards of Amazon, Express Scripts, and Medco Health Solutions.
Dr. Torti serves as Vant Investment Chair for Roivant Pharma. He previously served as a partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a leading venture capital firm where he managed early and growth-stage investments in numerous healthcare companies. Prior to joining NEA in 2007, Dr. Torti was a researcher at the Duke University Center for Clinical & Genetic Economics. Dr. Torti received his M.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and his M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Chronic Cough
Pulmonary fibrosis is a family of lung diseases characterized by scarring and thickening of lung tissue leading to an irreversible loss of lung function and reduced life expectancy. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common interstitial lung disease. IPF is a serious and progressive lung disease with a median life expectancy of about 3-5 years, no known cure, and limited treatment options. As many as 115,000 adults in the United States and as many as 3-5 million adults worldwide are believed to have IPF.
Most patients diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis suffer from a dry, non-productive cough that interrupts their daily living and significantly contributes to poor quality of life. Chronic coughing (lasting more than 8 weeks) can have a debilitating physical and psychosocial burden, exacerbate concomitant respiratory disease, cause loss of sleep, and reduce mobility.
About Respivant Sciences
Respivant Sciences is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to significantly improving the lives of patients suffering from respiratory diseases. The company's lead candidate, RVT-1601, is a mast cell stabilizer with pleotropic immune modulating properties delivered via oral inhalation using a proprietary aerosol device. For more information, please visit www.respivant.com.
About Roivant Pharma
Roivant Pharma is the biopharmaceutical business unit of Roivant Sciences. Roivant Pharma is focused on end-to-end biopharmaceutical company creation, launch, and oversight. Roivant Pharma companies include Myovant, Axovant, Arbutus, Urovant, Enzyvant, Dermavant, Genevant, Metavant, Immunovant, Altavant, and Respivant.
About Roivant Sciences
Roivant is focused on rapidly developing innovative medicines through a novel form of industrial organization. We build Vants – nimble, entrepreneurial biotech companies with a unique approach to sourcing talent, aligning economic incentives, and deploying technology to drive greater efficiency in R&D and commercialization. The goal of our model is to ensure that important medicines rapidly reach patients who suffer from serious diseases.
For more information, please visit www.roivant.com.
SOURCE Roivant Sciences