Gilead Sciences ($GILD) and ViiV Healthcare are duking it out for dominance in the HIV market. But Gilead recently scored a key point when the FDA approved its new therapy for the virus, Descovy. The win could help Gilead cement its market lead in the short term, one analyst said.
Descovy’s approval allows Gilead to “maintain a leading position in the HIV market” even as ViiV presents some “formidable competition,” GlobalData analyst David Fratoni told FiercePharmaMarketing in an email. Along with Descovy, Gilead also counts its next-gen TAF meds Genvoya and Odefsey among its recent launches. The trio will help the California-based company “face ViiV’s aggressive strategy to further strengthen its already large HIV portfolio,” Fratoni said.
ViiV is working hard to catch its rival. The company is investigating a single tablet treatment “that could further affect Gilead’s current position in the HIV market,” Fratoni said. And ViiV recently scooped up Bristol-Myers Squibb’s ($BMY) HIV candidates and preclinical research assets, which could give it more clout.
ViiV is not Gilead’s only competition, however. Janssen and ViiV are in late-stage testing with a new first-in-class therapy for HIV, and Janssen has kicked off two Phase III trials to look at the safety and efficacy of another investigational therapy for the virus. “(I)f ViiV’s and Janssen’s investigational treatments will reach the market, pricing will ultimately become the key determinant impacting the number of sales,” Fratoni said.
Still, Gilead’s Descovy has the advantages of safety and efficiency on its side. The drug “has a better safety profile” compared with the company’s blockbuster HIV meds, Truvada, Stribild and Viread, Fratoni said. And unlike its older peers, Descovy only has to be taken once a day.
The success of new HIV therapies mean a lot to Gilead, especially as it prepares for patent expiries for Viread and Truvada. Switching patients over to new treatments could help Gilead shield sales from generic rivals.
“Ultimately, given its positive safety profile and once-daily treatment regimen, Descovy will be positively perceived by many patients and physicians, who may be in favour of a switch from TDF-based regimens to more tolerable TAF-based regimens,” Fratoni said.
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Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall.