We as a country have a come a long way over the past two decades with regard to treating HIV and reducing the number of AIDS diagnoses. Plenty of factors have contributed to this reduction including better education of the public about the risk factors, as well as improved medication.
Gilead is cleaning up
At the head of the pack in slowing the progression of HIV in patients who have tested positive is Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD). You could certainly say that Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) has done its part to corner the market on HIV medications, introducing Truvada with an approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 for patients at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity.
However, in 2006, long before Truvada, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) introduced its three-in-one once-daily HIV treatment known as Atripla. Aside from being a landmark once-daily pill, which meant greater ease of use for patients, it also was a rarity in that it marked the collaboration of three behemoth biopharmaceutical providers to develop a drug for a serious disease. Atripla combined three drugs — one from Gilead, one from Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY), and one from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) — which resulted in nearly $3.6 billion in total revenue last year.
Gilead hasn’t stopped there, either. In August, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) launched its latest and greatest HIV-suppressing treatment known as Stribild. Using a combination of four separate drugs in a once-daily pill, over a 48-week period Stribild delivered undetectable levels of HIV in 88% to 90% of patients in late-stage trials. By comparison, Atripla and Truvada in combination with atazanavir and ritonavir provided undetectable HIV levels in 84% and 87% of patients over the same time period, respectively. Stribild sales totaled $92 million in the first quarter, up about 130% over the sequential quarter, and is certainly shaping up to be a blockbuster. Even more impressively for Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), Stribild is based on four drugs developed entirely in house which means no revenue sharing with Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY) or Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
Is new hope on the horizon for HIV patients?
As you might expect, with Stribild expected to slowly erode sales for Atripla and Truvada over time, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)’s peers have been looking for new ways to stick their nose in the HIV revenue treatment pipeline. Surprisingly, we may be seeing the next real advance in the treatment of HIV come from a company not named Gilead Sciences.