UK trade office may check GSK and Pfizer HIV joint-venture

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pfizer

GSK and Pfizer’s HIV joint venture (JV) may be subject to an investigation by UK competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), according to various media reports.

An OFT spokesperson said it was too early to comment on any potential investigation when contacted by in-PharmaTechnologist, explaining the organisation is “only asking for third party comments at this stage​,” the deadline for which is June 9.

The JV, which was announced in April, brings together the firms’ HIV treatment portfolios, including Pfizer’s recently launched CCR5 entry inhibitor Selzentry (maraviroc) and top selling GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) products Combivir​andKivexa.

At the time, Pfizer CEO ​Jeff Kindler explained that the rationale for the collaboration was to pool limited financial resources and reduce the risk associated with developing innovative niche therapies.

He suggested that the combination of his firm’s HIV pipeline, which currently has four candidates at Phase II, and GSK’s global distribution capabilities would accelerate the development process and mean that drugs reach patients quicker.

Second largest HIV drug seller

The JV’s 11 currently marketed drugs give it a 19 per cent share of the global HIV treatment market, making it the second largest supplier worldwide behind US firm Gilead Sciences.

While more details of the as yet unnamed JV are yet to emerge speculation is rife that it will be spun out as an independent unit, which may well be a concern for the OFT given that ownership is split 85 to 15 per cent in favour of UK-based GSK.

Roger Longman, an analyst at Windhover Research, suggested that a spin out would be in keeping with recent Pfizer deals that have seen both Esperion Therapeutics and RaQualia Pharma hived off as separate units.

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