Glaxo Venture's Lofty Goal in HIV: Eclipse Gilead as Top Player

(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s HIV venture wants to use less burdensome forms of treatment to unseat rival Gilead Sciences Inc. and become the top player in the $26 billion-a-year market in the mid-2020s.

“If our pipeline and our competitors’ pipelines play out as we’re expecting, that’s our aim,” Deborah Waterhouse, chief executive officer of ViiV Healthcare, told journalists at a briefing Wednesday in London. “We believe we’ve got a strong pipeline to help us achieve that.”

Glaxo and partner Pfizer Inc. are taking on Gilead with a strategy to develop two-drug HIV combinations rather than the three-drug regimens that have been the standard for many years. After the introduction last year of Juluca, the first of its kind, ViiV is betting on treatments including a long-acting injection that it said could gain approval either late next year or in early 2020.

“Our next step is to say OK, not only can we limit the number of drugs, but can we find a way to make treatment a lesser part of peoples’ lives,” Kimberly Smith, ViiV’s head of global research, said at the meeting. “Can we make it so they aren’t having to deal with taking a medication every day?”

ViiV today has about a 22 percent share of the HIV drug market, while Gilead has about 52 percent, according to Waterhouse. Gilead’s Biktarvy, a triple-therapy, single-tablet drug to treat HIV, was cleared for sale in the U.S. in February.

“There was some concern externally from analysts and shareholders that Biktarvy being launched in the U.S. would dent our growth,” Waterhouse said. “Actually our share is continuing to grow.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.