Gilead hunts for deals as it pursues combo cancer drug quest

With Gilead's Quad team deep into a Phase III program aimed at a successor to Atripla, the biotech company has been methodically piecing together a long-term initiative aimed at developing a new generation of cocktail therapies for cancer. Taking a page from its playbook on HIV/AIDS--where combos have changed a death sentence to a chronic condition--Gilead has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a quest to change the way cancer is treated. And CSO Norbert Bischofberger tells Bloomberg that the company has a long way to go in boosting what it is spending on cancer research as well as related buyouts and licensing deals.

Analysts have been paying keen attention to Gilead's recent investments in the cancer field, which include $600 million to buy out Calistoga Pharmaceuticals and Arresto Biosciences alongside a discovery pact with top Yale researchers. "We have looked at a number of commercial products that are potentially for sale, or available for licensing," Bischofberger says. "We're getting a huge amount of proposals and requests and we're spending a fair amount of time sifting through them...The absolute intent, desire and ambition is that 10 years from now, and hopefully sooner, we will be a major player in oncology. If we don't screw it up, and things continue to go well, I think we can do that."

Some analysts are giving the cancer strategy a nod.

"They have a very strong balance sheet, their HIV business is generating a lot of cash and they have a clear plan for the next generation of HIV drugs," Joel Sendek, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, tells Bloomberg. "They're at a stage in their maturity where they need to do more."

- here's the article from Bloomberg

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