GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to develop ultra-long-acting HIV drugs that are administered as little as four times a year, which could change the treatment of the virus.
ViiV Healthcare – a majority-owned and supported GSK specialist by Pfizer and the Japanese pharmaceutical group Shionogi – will develop a Shionogi molecule as a long-acting HIV treatment with a dose interval of three months or longer .
It will pay Shionogi £ 20 million for the molecule, another £ 15 million when clinical development milestones are reached, plus royalties on net sales. Shionogi will make limited contributions to the development.
The molecule will not be available for clinical trials until 2023, but ViiV executives said in an interview that they are hopeful about its future, given preliminary signs of high resistance to mutations in HIV and its long duration in the body. . Kimberly Smith, Head of R&D at ViiV, said the successful development of the molecule, named S-365598, could eventually lead to twice a year treatment for HIV.
‘What we heard [from patients is] the less frequently the dose is administered, the better, ”Smith said, adding that the company aimed to make“ HIV treatment a lesser part of people’s lives ”.
ViiV already has a long-acting treatment on the market in the US and Europe called Cabenuva, which is administered once or twice a month.
Currently, the vast majority of people with HIV daily take a combination of medications orally that is well tolerated and effective. The combination impedes viral replication, reduces the presence of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels and enables patients to lead a normal and healthy life with relatively little medical intervention. A byproduct of effective treatment is that people with HIV who have undetectable virus load cannot pass it on.
More long-acting drugs can reduce compliance problems, which is related to remembering to take medication every day and thus limiting the chance of resistance.
ViiV is not the only one in this area. For example, Merck and Gilead Sciences are working together to develop long-acting HIV treatments.
The prices of HIV drugs are controversial, with companies being accused of charging too much. Andy Hill, a senior visiting research fellow in pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, said long-term treatment could change HIV care.
“However, we already have excellent oral treatments that are taken once a day and used by more than 20 million people worldwide,” he said. “The new long-acting treatments should show significant benefits and be as inexpensive as the current options.”
Deborah Waterhouse, CEO of ViiV, said the company uses a combination of high-volume, lower-price transactions and royalty-free licenses to ensure good global access.
We separately said on Tuesday that one of Cabenuva’s components, cabotegravir, has received a priority review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for HIV prevention, with a target date of the end of January 2022.
Last year, trials showed that the remedy was better to prevent HIV compared to the current standard of care, Gilead’s Truvada.