How HIV Drugs Have Become A Billion-Dollar Franchise for Pharma Giants - The Average Joe

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    How HIV Drugs Have Become A Billion-Dollar Franchise for Pharma Giants

    Noah Weidner

    June 21, 2024

    After 43 years, the world’s worst modern health crisis could finally be coming to an end. Since 1981, over 40M people have died of HIV/AIDS worldwide. But thankfully, modern diagnoses are no longer a death sentence — and diagnosis rates are falling thanks to the increasing popularity of preventative drugs. With preventative treatment on the rise, some pharma leaders have made billion-dollar franchises out of ending the pandemic.

    • Gilead’s ($GILD) once-daily Truvada and Descovy PrEP pills have generated peak annual sales of $3B and $2B, respectively — and now, Gilead hopes to bring a lucrative injectable PrEP to market.
    • GSK ($GSK) and ViiV Healthcare have jointly launched injectable versions of PrEP — Cabenuva and Apretude — generating $338M in the latest quarter, a 77% increase year-over-year.

    Adoption curve: The CDC says that 1.2M high-risk people in the US could benefit from preventative meds — but only 36% of those patients are currently enrolled in treatment. That’s up from 23% in 2019, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. To close the gap, the US has been giving away HIV drugs for free to uninsured Americans through its “Ready, Set, PrEP” campaign — and new laws will mandate insurers to cover injectable HIV prevention drugs by 2025. However, reaching 100% enrollment will require making drugs cheaper — and facing conservative lawsuits against widening care. Both could impact profits and the efforts against the disease.

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