Did Researchers Just Discover a Cure for HIV/AIDS?

Source: Gilead Sciences.

Stribild is a four-in-one pill taken once daily. Its purpose is to interfere with an enzyme that HIV needs to multiply, thus slowing or halting the spread of the disease. When Stribild was compared against Gilead's prior-generation HIV therapies Truvada and Atripla, it proved superior. Stribild eliminated 88% to 90% of all detectable levels of HIV in clinical patients compared to 87% for Truvada and 84% for Atripla after 48 weeks.

Best of all, it's a win-win for Gilead's investors and HIV patients. Gilead Sciences owns the rights to all four components of Stribild, meaning it gets to keep all of the profits created from the sale of the drug. Atripla, the prior-generation HIV drug before Stribild, was a three-in-one drug where Gilead split the revenue and profits three ways with two additional companies that were involved in its development. And, more importantly, a majority of HIV patients get a potentially long-term solution to controlling their disease.

Source: GSK, Facebook.

The other fairly new drug expected to make a significant impact on curbing HIV's progression is ViiV Healthcare's Tivicay. ViiV is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline , but Pfizer and privately held Shinogi also own a stake.

Tivicay comes from a relatively new class of drugs known as integrase inhibitors which work by keeping HIV from entering host cells. Tivicay is a twice-daily pill that, in clinical trials, reduced all detectable levels of HIV in 88% of patients after 48 weeks. This compared to Atripla which reduced detectable levels of the disease in 81% of patients after 48 weeks.

The only real downside to both drugs is their cost. Tivicay will run users $14,105 per year, while Stribild's wholesale costs top $28,000! It's a price point that could make pharmacy-benefit managers and insurers cringe in horror, and it could prevent HIV-positive patients from getting the medicine that they need.

Critical steps forward

Over the past three years we've witnessed HIV/AIDS therapies take some major leaps forward with the introduction of Stribild and Tivicay. Now, it looks as if something even more exciting could be three to five years on the horizon, assuming everything goes well with human clinical trials.

Obviously, increased attempts at educating the public about the dangers of HIV/AIDS will help control the proliferation of the disease, but pharmaceutical agents are clearly also needed to halt this global killer in its tracks. I feel confident that we're making small but critical steps forward toward this goal and look forward to a day when we have a real-world cure for HIV/AIDS.

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The article Did Researchers Just Discover a Cure for HIV/AIDS? originally appeared on

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong , track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong , and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong .The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Gilead Sciences. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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