Eli Lilly's Olumiant lead jumps ship to a Ramaswamy 'vant'

Roivant Ramaswamy
Vivek Ramaswamy (right) has a habit of hiring top biopharma executives, although they don't always stick around. (Ben Adams)

Another day, another biopharma veteran hits the exit and walks straight into the arms of Vivek Ramaswamy.

Jackie Fouse did it (and promptly left), David Hung did it (and promptly left), Rachelle Jacques did it (she’s still there at the time of writing) and now it’s the turn of Pete Salzmann, M.D.

Salzmann becomes CEO of New York-based Immunovant, one of the growing list of "vant" companies (a full dozen at last count) out of the Roivant family, headed up by Ramaswamy.

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This vant, one of the newest (it launched last summer), focuses as its name suggest on immunology with its lead phase 2 program IMVT-1401, which it licensed from HanAll Biopharma.

The drug is an anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody and is being tested against autoimmune diseases mediated by pathogenic IgG antibodies. In May, the company starting dosing in an open-label, single-arm phase 2a, looking at IMVT-1401 in patients with moderate-to-severe active Graves' ophthalmopathy.

Immunovant also plans to start ASCEND-GO 2, a randomized, dose-ranging phase 2b study in patients with Graves' ophthalmopathy “later this quarter,” while tests for myasthenia gravis are also underway.

Salzmann will help lead this drug through the clinic, something he has deep experience with given he was most recently global clinical development leader for Eli Lilly’s recently approved rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant and also helped work on getting immunology drug Taltz on the market in the U.S. Before Lilly, Salzmann was an attending physician at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We are incredibly excited to have Pete join Immunovant as the company advances the development of IMVT-1401,” said Frank Torti, M.D., Vant investment chair at Roivant Pharma and chairman of the board at Immunovant.

“Pete’s track record of starting and expanding new businesses, launching and growing products, and building and leading high-performing teams is fully aligned with the expected next stages of growth for Immunovant and IMVT-1401.”

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