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GSK lifts growth target for HIV business on demand for long-acting drug

GSK lifts growth target for HIV business on demand for long-acting drug


Illustration shows GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) logo

GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) logo is seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Sept 28 – GSK (GSK.L) on Thursday lifted its medium-term growth forecast for its HIV drugs business ViiV, encouraged by strong sales of long-acting injections that aim to replace daily pills for preventing and treating the infection.

The ViiV business, in which Pfizer and Shionogi (4507.T) hold small stakes, is a key element of a push by group CEO Emma Walmsley to improve investor confidence in the strength of GSK’s drug development pipeline, which has lagged that of its rivals.

Strong sales of medicines for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, were one of the drivers behind the company’s improved guidance for 2023 earnings, issued in July, alongside continued growth in demand for GSK’s shingles vaccine.

The HIV business, the focus of a GSK’s capital markets day on Thursday, is now targeting annual rates of sales growth of between 6% and 8%, to reach between 6 billion pounds ($7.31 billion) and 7 billion pounds in 2026, up from “mid-single-digit” percentage growth seen previously.

GSK said its Apretude injection, an alternative to daily pills to prevent the viral infection, continues to gain acceptance among the targeted at-risk population.

A different version of the drug, established brand Cabenuva, has been in use for longer as an anti-HIV treatment.

In the prevention setting, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, GSK’s Apretude competes with Gilead’s (GILD.O) daily pill, Truvada, and a cheaper generic version sold by Teva (TEVA.TA) as Atripla.

“We have broad reimbursement in the U.S. and uptake has been extremely positive,” said ViiV CEO Deborah Waterhouse. Apretude won U.S. approval in late 2021 and in Europe this month.

“We will now talk country-by-country to each of the European nations to see what the situation is from a reimbursement perspective,” she added.

Following up on the success of Apretude, which is injected every other month, GSK said it was aiming to launch a prevention drug in 2026 to be taken once every four months, and another one for every six months towards the end of the decade.

GSK also said that patent protection for its best-selling antiviral ingredient dolutegravir, which is used in HIV drugs and had a combined 1.3 billion pounds in second-quarter sales, would expire in steps from 2028.

The core patent for dolutegravir will expire in April 2028 in the U.S. and in Europe in mid-2029, while U.S. patents on two dolutegravir-containing brands will be valid until 2029 and 2030, Waterhouse said.

Analysts had previously expected a loss of exclusivity from late 2027.

($1 = 0.8203 pounds)

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Anil D’Silva

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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