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HIV deal in China helps GSK rebuild tattered reputation

Country to receive discounted supplies of HIV drug Tivicay

China flag thumbChina is in line to receive discounted supplies of GlaxoSmithKline's HIV drug Tivicay after the company signed a deal with local manufacturer Desano Pharmaceuticals.

The agreement between GSK's ViiV Healthcare unit and Desano for the manufacture of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in Tivicay - the integrase inhibitor dolutegravir - will give ViiV the opportunity to offer a 'competitively-priced' supply of the drug in China and other markets in Asia.

The company has not however disclosed the size of the discount that will be made available. ViiV and Desano are also looking into the possibility for the future manufacture of finished product, as well as fixed dose combinations dolutegravir with APIs. 

Teaming up with Shanghai-based Desano is a welcome return to business-as-usual for GSK in China, where the company's standing was severely dented in the wake of a bribery and corruption scandal that led to a fine of $487m, the layoff of staff deemed to have contravened its governance and compliance procedures and suspended jail sentences for senior managers.

Tivicay is currently under regulatory review in China but has been launched in around 40m markets worldwide and - along with combination follow-up product Triumeq (dolutegravir, lamivudine and abacavir) - is one of ViiV's fastest-growing HIV therapies with combined sales  of £340m ($531m) last year.

At the time the corruption scandal came to a head GSK said it intended to improve access to its medicines in China by adopting a more flexible pricing model.

"This manufacturing agreement with Desano for dolutegravir is a significant achievement to facilitate access to our medicines," said ViiV chief executive officer Dominique Limet.

The company has pledged to improve access to its drugs in countries most exposed to HIV, and last year signed an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to allow generic manufacturers to produce low-cost versions of dolutegravir in countries with the highest HIV burden.

GSK had intended to spin out ViiV - a joint venture with Pfizer and Shionogi in which the company has an 80% stake - but backtracked in May given the unit's growth prospects between 2016 and 2020. First-quarter sales at ViiV grew 42% to £446m.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd July 2015

From: Sales



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