GSK, Shionogi HIV treatment wows analysts, beats Atripla in head-to-head

GlaxoSmithKline's ambitious effort to make a comeback in the HIV field took another big step forward today. A new HIV combo therapy backed by GSK ($GSK), Pfizer ($PFE) and Shionogi bested the leading treatment for the virus in a head-to-head study, spurring some rave reviews from very bullish analysts. 

GSK and Shionogi say that dolutegravir combined with two other treatments erased any sign of the virus after 48 weeks of therapy in 88% of patients, compared with 81% of the subjects among an arm taking Gilead's ($GILD) Atripla. Side effects pushed a number of Atripla subjects out of the study, which helped tilt the data in dolutegravir's favor. One in 10 of the patients in the Atripla group dropped out, compared to two percent in the experimental treatment arm.

JP Morgan's James Gordon was so impressed by the results he raised the treatment's shot at an approval from 50% to 100%, according to a Bloomberg report. And he put potential peak sales at $5 billion--the kind of mega-blockbuster cash that Big Pharma dreams about. Atripla earned more than $3 billion last year.

Berenberg's Alistair Campbell was a little more circumspect in his praise. "The integrase inhibitor market is probably going to be quite competitive," he told the business news service. Back in April investigators noted that dolutegravir also beat out Merck's Isentress in a head-to-head study.

"Taken together with the results of the SPRING-2 trial, the SINGLE findings suggest that, if approved by regulators, a treatment regimen containing dolutegravir may offer people living with HIV an important additional first line option in the future," said Dr. Tsutae Nagata, Shionogi's CMO.

- get the press release
- here's the story from Bloomberg

Special Report: Successes, failures mark 30 years of HIV/AIDS research

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