GlaxoSmithKline-Pfizer launch HIV joint venture

pharmafile | November 4, 2009 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing GSK, HIV, Pfizer, ViiV 

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have launched a specialist HIV company with access to ten medicines developed by the two manufacturers.

ViiV Healthcare, headquartered in London and North Carolina, will also have a right of first negotiation on any new HIV-related medicine developed by either company.

As well as looking at new medicines, ViiV’s R&D programme will attempt to create new formulations and combinations to resist the virus.

ViiV chief executive Dominique Limet, formerly head of personalised medicine strategy for GSK, said: “Much of our historic effort has been led by the virus – a chase of science.

“This must continue, but we must also listen and better understand the needs of people living with HIV.”

GSK holds an 85% interest in ViiV to Pfizer’s 15% and, like Limet, the majority of the new company’s senior management team are former GSK staffers.

Chief medical officer John Pottage, for example, is ex-senior vice president, infectious diseases medicine development centre for GSK.

Subesh Williams, chief financial officer, was previously vice president of corporate development at GSK, while Manuel Goncalves, head of government affairs, patient advocacy, community partnership and access, used to run GSK’s pharma business in Portugal.

ViiV’s chairman is Julian Heslop, chief financial officer for GSK.

The new company’s portfolio of established antiretrovirals generated sales of £1.6 billion last year, cash that will be used by ViiV to invest in its pipeline.

This currently contains seven medicines and includes five compounds in phase II development.

Half of ViiV’s existing drugs are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): Combivir, Epivir/3TC, Epzicom/Kivexa, Retrovir/AZT, Trizivir and Ziagen.

GSK’s newer medicine Epzicom/Kivexa, which has seen sales growth this year, will be expected to perform well alongside its older combinations, such as Combivir and Trizivir.

In addition, ViiV has Rescriptor, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) available only in the US; originally a Pharmacia product, it was swallowed by Pfizer in those companies’ merger several years ago.

There are also two protease inhibitors (PIs), which prevent the production of mature, infectious virus particles in infected human cells by blocking the protease enzyme.

These are Lexiva/Telzir which, when GSK launched it in the UK in 2004 was the first PI to have no food or drink restrictions for patients.

And Viracept, available in North America only, was launched by Pfizer a decade ago.

Finally, ViiV has one CCR5 antagonist: Selzentry/Celsentri, a Pfizer drug approved in Europe in 2007.

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