The agreement sees Gilead acquire exclusive global rights to develop and commercialize Novartis’ programs to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses.
To gain the rights, Gilead paid an unspecified upfront fee to Novartis and could provide a further $291m (€260m), dependent on development and commercial milestones.
“[The] announcement builds on Gilead’s heritage in antiviral R&D. We look forward to applying this expertise to advance the development of potential new treatments for viruses with limited therapeutic options,” said John McHutchison, Gilead’s outgoing CSO.
Gilead’s costly antiviral treatments for hepatitis C (HCV) have earnt the company significant sales, but generic competition means that such revenues are falling, with HCV product sales down to $3.7bn in 2018 from $9.1bn in 2017.
As a result, the company has reinvested revenue in bolstering its pipeline – notably, through the acquisition of Kite Pharma in 2017.
However, the pace of acquisitions has increased in 2019, even if the scale of such deals does not match the $11.9bn agreement for Kite.
Recently, Gilead signed a $5.1bn partnership deal with Galapagos for six drug candidates and 20 preclinical candidates. This followed the pair of deals the company carried out in April, again adding investigational treatments to its pipeline – in this case, targeting nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) disease.