ViiV Healthcare, the joint venture set up a few years ago by Pfizer (PFE 0.66%), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.07%), and the Japanese drugmaker Shionogi, is moving toward having an HIV treatment that can be dosed monthly -- or even less frequently.

The company presented data at the 2020 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections from a late-stage clinical trial, dubbed Flair, testing ViiV Healthcare's cabotegravir and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ -1.82%) rilpivirine, which showed the combination, when injected once a month, worked just as well as ViiV's Triumeq, which contains three medications and is taken orally daily.

Generally speaking, patients favor pills over injected medications when the frequency is the same, but when the comparison is between a monthly injection and daily pills, their preference tends to skew in favor of the needle. And in the Flair study, patients taking the injection had a higher level of treatment satisfaction compared to patients taking daily oral Triumeq.

Doctor talking to a patient in an exam room

Image source: Getty Images.

In a separate clinical trial, dubbed Atlas-2M, which was also presented at the conference, injections of cabotegravir and rilpivirine every eight weeks worked just as well as dosing every four weeks.

In December, ViiV announced that the Food and Drug Administration had rejected the company's application to approve cabotegravir plus rilpivirine, with the company noting that the issue was strictly related to the chemistry manufacturing and controls section of the application. ViiV noted that there were no changes to the safety profiles of the products used in the clinical trials, but didn't give a timeline for resubmitting the marketing application.