Wall Street Journal Examines GlaxoSmithKline’s Declining Dominance of Antiretroviral Drug Market
Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, which has dominated the antiretroviral drug market for more than 15 years, is "looking less secure" because of increased competition and pending patent expirations, the Wall Street Journal reports. GSK has a 45% share of the global market for antiretroviral drugs, and the company's HIV-related revenue last year grew 13% to $2.3 billion. However, GSK's market share is expected to decline to 40% by the end of this year, according to an estimate by research firm Defined Health. In addition, Datamonitor, a business information company, estimates that although the overall market for antiretroviral drugs will increase by 13% this year, the year-to-year growth rate will be 7% through 2010. The decline in growth rates can be attributed to increasing drug resistance and the "specter of eventual patent expirations," according to the Journal. GSK's patent on Retrovir -- which is also known by its generic name zidovudine -- is set to expire in 2005, the first antiretroviral patent to expire. Although Retrovir is a relatively small drug for the company, it is a main ingredient in two of its biggest-selling antiretroviral drugs, Combivir and Trizivir. Some analysts say that the expiration of the Retrovir patent could open the way for challenges to the patents for Combivir and Trizivir. However, GSK's "biggest difficulty" may be the fact that nearly all of its HIV-related revenue comes from an older class of antiretroviral drugs, known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, according to the Journal. HIV has become increasingly resistant to NRTIs in recent years, and many doctors are prescribing newer drugs, such as Abbott Laboratories' Kaletra and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sustiva, according to the Journal. However, GSK "isn't sitting still," the Journal reports. GSK next year plans to launch a new protease inhibitor that can be taken once a day, and the company has five other antiretroviral drugs in the early stages of testing (Naik, Wall Street Journal, 9/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.