Finance

GlaxoSmithKline bolsters pipeline with two HIV future blockbusters


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rugs maker GlaxoSmithKline’s subsidiary ViiV Healthcare today announced two potential breakthroughs in its pipeline, underlying the central role the HIV specialist expects to play in its parent’s future.

ViiV has signed a £35 million deal with Japan’s Shionogi to develop a possible successor to Glaxo’s blockbuster medicine dolutegravir, one of the world’s top-selling HIV drugs.

Initial data suggests that the compound — a virus-blocker known only as S-365598 — is longer-lasting than its predecessors, meaning patients might only need one jab every three months rather than taking a daily cocktail of pills.

Viiv CEO Deborah Waterhouse

/ Viiv Healthcare

Preclinical studies are under way with human trials expected by 2023.

Separately, the US Food and Drug Administration has placed ViiV’s new second-generation HIV shot cabotegravir onto a fast-track review to assess its potential to prevent people from acquiring the infection.

The drug was approved for use in the treatment of HIV patients in Europe and the US at the turn of the year.

A decision on whether it can be also used pre-exposure is due in January.

Human trials showed it was between three and nine times more effective than existing therapies.

The two developments come at a critical time for Glaxo, with dolutegravir — which accounted for almost £5 billion of the group’s £34 billion total sales in 2020 — coming off patent in 2028. It is used by more than half of the 30 million HIV patients globally.

Solid progress in research will also bolster group CEO Emma Walmsley, who faces pressure from activist investors over her intention to assume the leadership role at Glaxo’s pharma division “New GSK” when its consumer healthcare arm is carved off into a separate company next year.

Deborah Waterhouse, ViiV CEO, said that “nothing will change” for the venture post-split, adding: “We will continue to develop innovative HIV medicines and perform strongly for our shareholders.”

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