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The duo plans to develop a pill that combines Gilead's development-stage cobicistat and Johnson & Johnson's Prezista. Cobicistat is a boosting agent that helps certain types of antiviral medications work better. Prezista is already approved for use in combination with Abbott Labs' (NYSE: ABT ) boosting agent Norvir. Johnson & Johnson will be responsible for developing and selling the drug. This is a pretty low-risk partnership, with Prezista already on the market and cobicistat part of Gilead's quad pill that seems to work pretty well.
The deal builds on an earlier partnership to combine Johnson & Johnson's recently approved Edurant with Gilead's Truvada. That combo is already under regulatory review, and the FDA should make a decision on or around Aug. 10. The drug will go up against Atripla, a nearly $3 billion drug that combines Truvada with Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY ) Sustiva.
As if the two deals weren't enough, Gilead and Johnson & Johnson said they're working out details on a third deal that will combine Prezista with Gilead's Emtriva, cobicistat, and another development-stage drug, GS 7340. Gilead will be in charge of developing this combination, and the cobicistat-Prezista deal is actually dependant on working out the details of this third deal.
With Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK ) married and Gilead and Johnson & Johnson now shacking up, one has to wonder whether Abbott, Bristol-Myers, and Merck (NYSE: MRK ) might start eyeing each other from across the room. In a therapeutic area where cocktails rule, the last one to the altar is likely to end up as an old maid.
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