HIV treatment hopes deliver double boost for under-fire Glaxo chief

HIV treatment hopes deliver double boost for under-fire Glaxo chief Emma Walmsley










GlaxoSmithKline chief Emma Walmsley was handed a double boost as the company made potential breakthroughs with two drugs that could transform HIV prevention and treatment.

The pharma giant said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to speed up its review of cabotegravir, a drug developed by HIV specialist ViiV Healthcare, in which it holds a majority stake. The treatment could be approved in January.

Cabotegravir is a type of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug designed to be taken regularly to prevent HIV infection.

GlaxoSmithKline said the US Food and Drug Administration has decided to speed up its review of cabotegravir, a drug developed by ViiV Healthcare, in which it holds a majority stake

While current PrEP treatments require patients to take them daily, cabotegravir was shown in trials to be effective when taken every eight weeks.

ViiV is planning to submit the drug to other national regulators before the end of 2021.

‘We believe new options like [cabotegravir] will help play a significant role in our collective efforts to end the HIV epidemic’, said Kimberly Smith, ViiV’s head of research & development. 

Separately, GSK said ViiV has signed a deal with Japanese pharma firm Shionogi to develop S-365598, an experimental treatment that prevents HIV from multiplying by blocking an enzyme it releases, which is due to begin human trials in 2023.

The two wins for ViiV’s treatments will be welcome news for Walmsley who is trying to fend off a campaign by activist investors Elliott Management and Bluebell Capital.

The 52-year-old is planning to split off GSK’s consumer healthcare business as a separate company, leaving it with its vaccine and pharmaceuticals arm.

However, the activists have argued that GSK should sell the segment and have questioned Walmsley’s ability to lead the science-focused firm given her background as the former head of the consumer goods business and as boss of L’Oréal’s Chinese arm.

A meeting will be held next week with several institutional investors.

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