Bristol-Myers, Gilead Work on New Combo HIV Pill

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Gilead Sciences Inc. announced Wednesday a deal to develop and sell a once-a-day HIV pill that combines a popular protease inhibitor (PI) with a boosting agent.

Under the plan, Bristol-Myers will formulate, manufacture, and sell the combination treatment. The pill includes Bristol-Myers' PI Reyataz and Gilead's cobicistat, which works to raise HIV drug levels in the blood by blocking an enzyme that breaks down drugs. Gilead is currently conducting mid- and late-stage human trials of the combination pill in newly diagnosed patients.

The two companies already work together on the three-drug pill Atripla, the first approved once-a-day HIV drug; it is now prescribed to more than half of new HIV patients. Atripla includes Sustiva, made by Bristol-Myers, and Gilead's Viread and Emtriva.

Combination pills have become the foundation of HIV treatment, as they make regimen adherence much less difficult.