GlaxoSmithKline: GSK spends $19bn on US rival’s drugs to boost HIV battle

The drugs that GSK has bought still require approval by regulators

Michael Bow
Saturday 19 December 2015 02:23 GMT
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GSK has had a longstanding role in HIV treatments
GSK has had a longstanding role in HIV treatments

The drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline tightened its grip on the $19bn market for HIV treatments yesterday by snapping up a selection of drugs from its rival Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The FTSE 100 outfit will pay $350m (£235m) upfront – and up to $1.1bn later, depending on sales – for two separate buckets of drugs that aim to treat HIV patients.

GSK’s majority-owned subsidiary Viiv Healthcare – a specialist HIV drugs business – struck the deal with the US-based Bristol-Myers Squibb.

GSK has had a longstanding role in HIV treatments, developing Zidovudine, the first-ever drug approved for use by American regulators. The treatment later became the focus of the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club.

Viiv’s chairman, David Redfern, said: “These acquisitions strengthen our leadership and innovation in HIV – one of our core areas of scientific research at GSK.”

The drugs that GSK has bought are in the latter stages of development and still require approval by regulators.

The most advanced of the drugs, Fostemsavir, is set to file for regulatory approval in the US in 2018.

Morgan Stanley analysts called it a “nice, complementary HIV research deal” and said the price paid was “reasonable”.

Viiv’s flagship product, Tivicay, has helped GSK close the gap on HIV market leader Gilead Sciences since the drug’s launch in 2013.

GSK’s chief executive. Sir Andrew Witty, had considered spinning out Viiv – founded in 2009 – into a standalone business on the stock market. But decided against the plan after investors urged the company to keep the unit because it was performing so well.

Viiv is 78 per cent owned by GSK – with the rest owned by its American competitor Pfizer and the Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi – and contributes around 10 per cent of GSK’s annual revenues. The division is the fastest growing in the group with compound growth of 10.3 per cent a year.

GSK’s HIV sales in the third quarter of this year were £622m – a 65 per cent increase year on year.

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