gut bacteria

Competition to be the leader in the HIV treatment market is heating up as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announces they will be showcasing results for their new therapy at the International AIDS Conference next month. This sets GSK up against current market leaders Gilead Sciences, to find out if GSK’s duel drug approach is an improvement on the more traditional three compound plan.

Gilead is currently the strongest player in the HIV treatment market, holding 52% of the market share with combination therapies that include three drugs. With 22% of the market share, GSK have quite a lot of ground to make up. To do so, they’ve been focusing their attention of a novel approach to HIV treatment that uses two drugs instead of three, in the hope that this will result in better, cheaper treatments for patients.

GSK’s treatment, which combines dolutegravir and lamivudine, reported some success with headline results last week. However, the company has now announced that a presentation of the detailed results of the GEMINI trials has been accepted by the organisers of the International AIDS Conference. The conference is due to take place in Amsterdam next month and will see a number of companies presenting their most recent data to medical professionals from around the world.

In particular, GSK need to convince doctors that their treatment is able to overcome problems of resistance that have previously been reported. By relying on two drugs instead of three, it is thought that the virus will have an easier time of adapting to become resistant to the treatment, and this appeared to be the case in early drug trials. However, in the most recent GEMINI trials, GSK have reported that no resistance was seen over 48 weeks.

Nonetheless, there is a wariness among the medical community of taking on new treatment approaches when there are causes for concern.

“Physicians are interested in anything new that comes along in HIV, as they should be, but are a bit cautious about anything that steps back from established standards,” said Mike Elliott, European Head of Medical Affairs for Gilead, when speaking with Reuters.

Despite the concerns, GSK remain hopeful.

“Some clinicians will take the 48-week data and be absolutely convinced,” said Kimberly Smith, Head of R&D at ViiV Healthcare, GSK’s majority owned HIV business. “There will be others who, because this is a change in the treatment paradigm, will want to see longer-term data. We will be providing that as the GEMINI studies are designed to go for three years.”

GSK won’t be alone at the conference; Gilead is also going to be presenting new data on their most recent HIV treatment, Biktarvy, which is anticipated to receive European approval in the near future. Until the conference next month, we’ll have to wait and see whether clinicians can be swayed by GSK’s innovative approach or if they will fall back on tried and tested therapies. With the HIV treatment market estimated to be worth $26 billion each year, there is a lot of pressure on both companies to succeed.