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2 March 2020AmericasRory O'Neill

Gilead secures new anti-cancer therapy in $4.9bn deal

Gilead Sciences has agreed a $4.9 billion deal to buy California-based immuno-oncology company Forty Seven.

The deal will see Gilead acquire rights to Forty Seven’s lead product candidate magrolimab, which is aimed at boosting the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells.

“This agreement builds on Gilead’s presence in immuno-oncology and adds significant potential to our clinical pipeline,” said Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day.

“With a profile that lends itself to combination therapies, magrolimab could potentially have transformative benefits for a range of tumour types,” O’Day added.

The move marks a broadening of Gilead’s drug portfolio, which is built largely on antivirals, particularly anti-HIV medication.

Gilead’s domination of the HIV drug market has led to criticism over the rising cost of its medications, as well as accusations of gaming the patent system to secure longer exclusivity periods for the drugs.

The list price of Descovy, Gilead’s latest flagship drug for pre-exposure prophylaxis, currently stands at just more than $1,900 for 30 tablets.

PrEP, if taken daily, is estimated to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV through sex by 99%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The US government is currently embroiled in patent litigation with Gilead over the drugs, as it claims the CDC discovered their use as PrEP through publicly funded research.

Gilead unsuccessfully tried to have four US government patents covering PrEP invalidated, but each petition for inter partes review was thrown out by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

The Forty Seven acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

“We are pleased to join Gilead and believe that by combining our scientific expertise with Gilead’s strength in developing treatments that modify the immune system, we will be able to more rapidly advance our therapies,” said Forty Seven CEO Mark McCamish.

Gilead has recently been granted three Chinese patents for the use of its drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19.

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