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ViiV agrees $1.5bn deal to acquire BMS' HIV assets

Includes its entire development pipeline - from discovery to preclinical projects

ViiV Healthcare 

ViiV Healthcare has improved its position in the HIV therapy market with a $1.5bn deal to take control of Bristol-Myers Squibb's antiretroviral product portfolio.

The wide-ranging deal includes BMS' entire development pipeline - from discovery and preclinical research projects through to late-stage clinical candidates - but not marketed products such as Reyataz (atazanavir), Evotaz (atazanavir/cobicistat), Sustiva (efavirenz) and big-selling Atripla (efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir).

ViiV is a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi and is currently the second-biggest player in HIV therapies after Gilead Sciences with a market share of around 20%, well behind its rival which dominates the market.

In a statement, GSK said ViiV would pay BMS $317m upfront for the late-stage HIV portfolio, plus $518m dependent on development and commercial milestones. It will also pay the US pharma group $33m upfront for the early-stage candidates, plus another $587m in milestones.

The late-stage assets include attachment inhibitor fostemsavir, in phase III development for heavily pre-treated patients with filings for approval expected in 2018, along with lead maturation inhibitor BMS-955176 and back-up candidate BMS-986173.

The early-stage portfolio features a novel biologic therapy called BMS-986197 with a triple mechanism of action, another maturation inhibitor, an allosteric integrase inhibitor and a capsid inhibitor.

ViiV's chairman and chief strategy officer David Redfern said: "The addition of two potential first-in-class late-stage treatments and several promising early clinical development programmes strengthens ViiV's pipeline and provides us with further new opportunities for growth."

The move ties in with an ongoing trend among pharma companies to divest assets in order to focus on a handful of core therapeutic categories, as seen in Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim's recently-announced asset swap and similar deals including one involving GSK and Novartis which closed earlier this year.

GSK shelved earlier plans to float ViiV as an independent company earlier this year, however, after seeing surging sales of blockbuster-in-waiting Triumeq (dolutegravir, lamivudine and abacavir). The move was welcomed by analysts who said the unit gave GSK a stronger balance sheet. ViiV's sales increased 56% in the first nine months of the year to £1.63bn ($2.4bn).

BMS had previously announced its intention to call a halt to early-stage R&D in virology, and said 20 workers would transfer to GSK as a consequence of the new agreement, which is due to close in mid-2016.

Article by
Phil Taylor

21st December 2015

From: Sales

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