Gilead, Johnson & Johnson to Develop Once-Daily HIV Pill

A new once-daily pill to treat HIV will be developed under a deal announced Thursday by Gilead Sciences and Johnson & Johnson. The new antiretroviral would contain J&J’s experimental non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, TMC278, and Gilead’s Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir). In the agreement, Gilead said it will pay development costs of up to $100 million and receive TMC278 at a discount of up to 30 percent off its market price. The combination pill is being developed for use in newly diagnosed patients, said Kevin Young, head of commercial operations at Gilead. The new pill will likely erode the market for Atripla, a once-daily treatment combining Gilead’s Truvada and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Sustiva, given Sustiva’s central nervous system side effects, Young acknowledged. Physicians would be unlikely to change treatment for patients responding well to Atripla. In addition, Sustiva’s patents will lapse in the next decade, as will the patents for Gilead’s drugs between 2017 and 2021, according to Phil Nadeau, an analyst with Cowen and Co. Gilead will be developing the new combination drug in anticipation of market approval by 2011. That development is contingent on regulatory approval of TMC278 within three years in the United States or Europe.

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