LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson has linked up with ViiV Healthcare - a specialist HIV company majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline - to develop a new AIDS medicine combining two drugs in a single tablet.
The decision to study and commercialise a tablet containing J&J's non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Edurant, or rilpivirine, and ViiV's integrase inhibitor Tivicay, or dolutegravir, promises a simpler alternative to current three-drug therapies.
The idea is to use the two-drug combination tablet once a patient's level of virus has been suppressed and stabilised.
Studies included in the new development programme are expected to begin by the first quarter of 2015 and will investigate the new combination as an HIV maintenance therapy for patients already virally suppressed on a three-drug regimen.
The deal expands ViiV's portfolio of regimens based on Tivicay, which is viewed by analysts as an important future revenue driver for GSK.
Pfizer and Shionogi hold minority stakes in ViiV.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Sophie Walker)