Pharma veteran Jackie Fouse is leaving a SoftBank-backed biotech founded by a 33-year-old to run a cancer drugmaker

Courtesy AgiosJackie Fouse
  • Pharma veteran Jackie Fouse is leaving her role as executive chairman at Dermavant, a company founded by Vivek Ramaswamy, to join cancer drugmaker Agios Pharmaceuticals as CEO.
  • Before Dermavant, Fouse was president of biotech giant Celgene.
  • It’s the second major executive departure for Roivant Sciences’ portfolio of companies.
  • Current Agios CEO David Schenkein will move into the executive chairman role in February 2019.

Another top executive is leaving a biotech that’s part of Roivant Sciences, the company founded by 33-year-old former hedge fund manager Vivek Ramswamy.

Pharma veteran Jackie Fouse, currently the executive chairman of Roviant subsidiary Dermavant, will become CEO of cancer drug company Agios Pharmaceuticals in February 2019, the drugmaker said on Tuesday.

Fouse, who worked with Agios during her time at Celgene and as a board member, came into the role after other board members asked if she’d be willing to be considered as a potential candidate to replace current Agios CEO David Schenkein.

After serving as Celgene’s president, Fouse joined Dermavant, a dermatology company that’s part of the Roivant Sciences umbrella, in July 2017. The goal of Roivant is in part to spot and develop drugs that other pharmaceutical companies have ditched.

Roivant raised $US1.1 billion in 2017 in a round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, and has so far launched 12 subsidiary companies. Those include neurodegenerative disease drug developer Axovant, women’s health company Myovant, and urology company Urovant.

Fouse is now the second major executive to leave a Roivant company. In February, former Medivation CEO David Hung left his post as chief executive of Axovant. Hung had been at Axovant for only 10 months, during which time its lead Alzheimer’s drug failed a key clinical trial. Axovant has since discontinued that drug program and pivoted to developing a gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

In June, Roivant also went through a restructuring that included a 10% cut to its staff, though a spokesman for Roivant said that the company’s headcount is now higher than that as of September.

Dermavant said in a statement Tuesday that Fouse’s last day is Wednesday.

“Dermavant has made great strides in the past year under Jackie’s leadership, including the recent addition of tapinarof as the company’s anchor asset, and we will always consider her a part of the Roivant family,” Roivant Pharma president Mayukh Sukhatme said in a statement. “Our Vant leadership model enables industry leaders like Jackie to help us rapidly accelerate the launch of new Vants by helping them achieve operational maturity in a short amount of time.”

Fouse had also been approached for another CEO role at Gilead Sciences, Stat reports. Gilead CEO John Milligan said in July that he planned to step down at the end of the year.

Agios Pharmaceuticals is a cancer drugmaker that has two approved treatments for acute myeloid leukemia. The two drugs work to starve out cancer cells, targeting something known as cancer cell metabolism.

Schenkein will move to an executive chairman position following Fouse’s appointment.

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