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Gilead, Merck to Distribute New AIDS Pill

From Reuters

Gilead Sciences Inc. and Merck & Co. said Friday that they had agreed to distribute a new triple-combination AIDS pill in developing countries.

The once-daily drug, Atripla, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last month. Gilead, based in Foster City, Calif., and Merck of Whitehouse Station, N.J., said they planned to pursue registration of the product with individual countries’ health authorities.

Atripla combines Gilead drugs Emtriva and Viread with a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, which is sold in the United States, Canada and some European countries by Bristol-Myers Squibb under the brand name Sustiva and elsewhere by Merck under the name Stocrin.

The combination pill is viewed as the latest step in making it easier for AIDS patients to keep the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in check -- a process that once included dozens of daily pills.

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The companies said Atripla would be made available in developing countries as a white-colored tablet to distinguish it from the salmon-colored version available in the United States.

“As a once-daily, single-tablet regimen, Atripla may help to simplify therapy for patients, and we recognize the urgent need to ensure access for people living in parts of the world where the epidemic is taking the greatest toll,” Gilead Chief Executive John Martin said in a statement.


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