Gilead Snaps up Antiviral Programs From Novartis, Follows Slew of Other Pipeline-Bolstering Deals

doctor and businessman shaking hands

Gilead Sciences struck a deal with Swiss pharma giant Novartis for three preclinical antiviral programs aimed at the treatment of human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses.

Gilead will acquire the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the novel small molecules against three undisclosed targets. Under terms of the deal, Novartis will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, as well as an additional $291 million in potential milestone payments upon achievement of certain development and commercial milestones, as well as royalties on annual net sales.

John McHutchison, the outgoing chief scientific officer and head of research at Gilead Sciences, said the announcement builds upon the company’s “heritage in antiviral research and development.” Gilead’s antiviral portfolio includes among the most widely used medicines for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as influenza infection.

Gilead Chief Executive Officer John O’Day has been busy since taking over the helm of the company in March. Not only has he been adjusting his executive leadership support team to drive the company forward, he has also been focused on the company’s pipeline, which includes striking deals ahead of the company’s planned quarterly release at the end of the month. Over the past several weeks, O’Day and his Gilead team have been striking various deals to support the development of therapeutics for a number of diseases and illnesses. Earlier this month, the company increased its stake in Belgium-based Galapagos NV by forging a 10-year R&D collaboration. Under terms of the deal, worth nearly $5 billion, Gilead will gain access to an innovative portfolio of compounds, including six molecules currently in clinical trials, more than 20 preclinical programs and a proven drug discovery platform. Galapagos assets at the center of the deal include GLPG1690, a Phase III candidate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and GLPG1972, a Phase IIb candidate for osteoarthritis.

Also this month, Gilead and the Renown Institute for Health Innovation forged an agreement to study nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a disease Gilead is highly interested in, but has so far been unsuccessful in developing a therapeutic. Gilead has been keenly interested in diseases of the liver and has been rapidly expanding its shots on goal at treating NASH with multiple deals over the past several months. As BioSpace reported at the time of the IHI deal, Gilead will fund Renown IHI’s efforts to sequence and analyze the DNA of 15,000 people who have been diagnosed with NASH or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in addition to a control group of 40,000 people in Nevada, which is where IHI is located.

In addition to diseases of the liver, Gilead is one of the leading companies in the development of treatments for HIV. Earlier this month, the company struck a deal with Watertown, Mass.-based Lyndra Therapeutics to develop and commercialize ultra-long-acting oral HIV therapies. Gilead will have exclusive rights to Lyndra’s therapeutics platform for ultra-long-acting formulations related to HIV.

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