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ViiV Healthcare has entered into an agreement with Janssen R&D Ireland Ltd., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Analyst Report), for the development and commercialization of a single tablet combination of ViiV Healthcare’s Tivicay and Johnson & Johnson’s Edurant.

ViiV Healthcare, a company focused on the treatment of HIV, was established by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK - Analyst Report) and Pfizer (PFE - Analyst Report) in 2009. After certain amendments in Oct 2012, Glaxo, Pfizer and Shionogi now own 76.5%, 13.5% and 10% of ViiV Healthcare, respectively.

The Johnson & Johnson agreement is in line with ViiV Healthcare’s strategy to develop Tivicay-based therapies. We remind investors that Tivicay was cleared by the FDA in Aug 2013 as an add-on therapy to other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of patients suffering from HIV-1, who are above 12 years and weigh at least 88 lbs.

ViiV Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson plan to initiate studies on a single-tablet combination of Tivicay and Edurant by the first quarter of 2015. The companies are looking to evaluate the combination as an HIV maintenance therapy for patients already virally suppressed on a three-drug regimen.

Additionally, the companies will evaluate a fixed-dose combination of Tivicay and Edurant in pediatric patients. We note that the pediatric patient population represents an unmet disease area with approximately 3.3 million children living with HIV globally of which approximately 2.2 million children (66%) do not have access to appropriate care and medicines.

Johnson & Johnson, Glaxo and Pfizer are all Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stocks. A better-ranked stock in the health care sector is Gilead Sciences (GILD - Analyst Report) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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