Roivant cuts 12% of workforce to save cash, a blow to the larger divide-and-conquer 'vant' strategy

Roivant Sciences laid off 12% of its staff last week as part of a larger cash-saving strategy, the company confirmed Monday morning. 

In a statement, CEO Matt Gline placed the downsizing within a larger strategy to extend Roivant’s cash runway into the second half of 2025. The news was first reported last week by Endpoints News.

The move fits into a larger theme seen over the last six months in biotech, where the public market has stabilized somewhat but layoffs remain frequent. Roivant’s shares are up more than 50% in the last six months, from $3.53 per share to $5.43 as of Monday morning. Nonetheless, the company felt it was necessary to slim down its staffing to afford its pipeline goals.

Roivant is the parent company overseeing a dozen other so-called “vants,” smaller companies with specific clinical focuses made up of abandoned assets from other pharmas. The company’s statement did not specify how the layoffs were divided among these subsidiaries. 

One of those offshoots is Dermavant, the dermatology-focused spinout that nabbed its first FDA approval in May for psoriasis med Vtama. In an interview with Fierce Pharma at the time, CEO Todd Zavodnick said the drug had the potential to shift the standard of care for the skin condition. In its fiscal second-quarter earnings report Monday, Roivant reported $5 million in net revenue from the treatment. 

In June, Pfizer disclosed that it was offloading its TYK2 inhibitors to Roivant, spurring the creation of another vant specifically to develop these assets. Priovant has been tasked with developing brepocitinib to treat dermatomyositis and lupus, with enrollment completing in August for a potentially registrational trial in the latter indication. The company expects to have data from the lupus trial in the second half of 2023. 

Bolstering Roivant's cash reserves was the sale of its Myovant division to Sumitomo earlier this year. Sumitomo was already a major shareholder in Myovant and the transaction—which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023—totaled $2.9 billion. Including the Myovant deal and public offerings from Roivant and its subsidiary Immunovant, the larger company’s available cash on hand is roughly $1.9 billion.