GSK, Pfizer and Shionogi venture ViiV Healthcare is linking with Janssen Sciences Ireland to develop and commercialise the first long-acting, two-drug injectable treatment regimen for HIV.

The companies have confirmed plans for a Phase III trial of the therapy, which consists of ViiV’s cabotegravir and Janssen’s rilpivirine (branded Edurant), assessing its safety and efficacy in patients with HIV-1 infection.

The long-acting formulations are being investigated as an injectable maintenance treatment for patients who have achieved viral suppression, and the trial is scheduled to begin later this year.

If successful, the regimen would offer an alternative option to the standard oral daily, three-drug therapy, noted Dominique Limet, ViiV’s chief executive.

This is the second time the companies have signed a development and commercialisation pact, the first being centred on a single-tablet combining ViiV's integrase strand transfer inhibitor dolutegravir (Tivicay) and Janssen's non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor rilpivirine, which was signed back in 2014.