ViiV Healthcare, a new specialist HIV company established by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, has opened its doors for business.

The company, which will be 85%-owned by GSK, with Pfizer having a 15% stake, will have 10 products on the market, including GSK’s Kivexa (abacavir and lamivudine) and Pfizer’s new oral drug Selzentry/Celsentri (maraviroc). Revenues from these generated sales of approximately £1.6 billion in 2008.

Dominique Limet, chief executive of ViiV, said that “rising infection rates and increasingly complex treatment issues have created a challenging landscape in the treatment of HIV and the need for innovative research and better patient resources”. He added that “much of our historic effort has been led by the virus – a chase of science. This must continue, but we must also listen and better understand the needs of people living with HIV”.

Dr Limet stated that ViiV would be pursuing “multiple” strategies to develop the existing business and deliver “new growth opportunities, including geographic expansion, new collaborations and business development activities”. The company also has a pipeline of seven “innovative and targeted medicines”, including five compounds in Phase II development and altogether, ViiV has 17 treatments in its portfolio.

He added that “one of our first tasks will be to identify partners to help develop fixed-dosed combinations and we are providing £10 million of seed funding to support a public-private partnership approach to the discovery of much-needed clinical evidence into new HIV/AIDS medicines for children”. Dr Limet concluded by saying that ViiV had the potential to “re-energise” the pharmaceutical industry’s participation in HIV.