HIV Drug Partnership Gets a Boost

Talk about a love fest. Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD  ) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) announced their second HIV-drug pact today and have arrangements for a third.

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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Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Abbott Laboratories, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 6:05 PM, SAMara24 wrote:

    THIS IS WHEN I HATE BUSINESS

    I love the market and everything in my life I look at from a business perspective...

    But just imagine if these companies, just for this single project, stopped competing and all joined together, evenly shared profits for it, and were able to create a drug that is at least more effective? They'd all be responsible for saving millions of lives while slowing a tragic epidemic and make some money off of it? Each company still has their own other products. This would just be a single alliance and can continue competing with each other as soon as the project is done. This is disgusting to me. The sole reason they are not doing this and delaying any preventative/resolution to something that kills millions of people is because each company wants to be the one to make more of the money...

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