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15 March 2021, 15:33
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Gilead and Merck announce collaboration to develop HIV treatments using Lenacapavir and Islatravir

Gilead and Merck announce collaboration to develop HIV treatments using Lenacapavir and Islatravir - picture 1

Today, March 15th, Gilead Sciences and Merck (known as MSD outside US and Canada) announced an agreement to jointly develop and commercialise long-acting HIV treatments based on their recently developed agents.

Last week at CROI 2021 Gilead presented data on their capsid inhibitor, Lenacapavir, whilst Merck presented their investigational nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, Islatravir.

Both agents have long-half lives and have shown themselves to be well tolerated and effective in clinical trials, though more work is needed to establish this. The results of these trials support the development of long-acting combinations in oral, injectable and implant forms.

The first clinical trials of an oral combination are expected to begin the second half of 2021. Under the terms of the collaboration agreement Gilead and Merck will work as partners, sharing operational responsibility, development, commercialisation and marketing costs – as well as any future earnings.

Both Lenacapavir and Islatravir are still investigational compounds and as such are not approved for use outside of clinical research at this point.

Gilead Sciences Chairman and CEO Daniel O'Day commented: “Our work on HIV over the past decades has been shaped by listening to people living with HIV and the doctors who treat them. We are now taking the same approach to long-term therapy, combining the cutting-edge scientific advances of both companies to accelerate progress.”

Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer at Merck said: “This collaboration with Gilead brings together two companies dedicated to the fight against HIV to develop potential new long-acting treatment options, and is an important step forward in our strategy to harness the full potential of islatravir for the treatment of HIV.”

Author: Tom Hayes

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