GSK drops a pair of late-stage candidates in COPD, HIV


GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) had hoped to have the first oral maturation inhibitor to treat HIV. But now it may be off-track on that goal. It has discontinued its lead Phase IIb maturation inhibitor BMS-955176, which GSK acquired from Bristol-Myers Squibb in December when it bought the biopharma’s HIV pipeline assets in a deal worth up to $3 billion.

The company also made it official that it will terminate development of losmapimod in COPD, which failed a Phase II trial earlier this year. Last year, GSK also stopped developing losmapimod as a cardiac treatment after a Phase III failure.

In HIV, the pharma said it plans to continue development of maturation inhibitors and will move on to backup candidates. At the time of the deal, the pair disclosed backup maturation inhibitor candidate BMS-986173, as well as another unnamed, preclinical maturation inhibitor.

“So, as far as the maturation inhibitor, we didn't feel it was good enough from that point of view,” said GSK CEO Andrew Witty on an Oct. 26 earnings call. “In fact, we have at least two more backups, and they come from both Bristol-Myers and GSK labs, actually. And I don't think we're going to lose a lot of time. We obviously lose a bit of time here, but not a lot of time.”

He continued, “So, I think we feel like the overall program is really still very much substantive, has a number of opportunities in it. And even at the time where we did the transaction with Bristol-Myers, while we didn't know the tolerability profile of this lead asset, we were particularly intrigued by a couple of the backups. So, even at the time of the transaction, we have been increasing our focus on the backups. As it turns out, the lead from BMS wasn't what we hoped it would be. But the reality is I think the program remains very much intact.”