Gilead, Novo Nordisk Expand NASH Collaboration

Gilead and Novo Nordisk are expanding their clinical collaboration for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Shares of Gilead, a biopharmaceutical company, are down about 1.2% in the pre-market session today.

Gilead (GILD) and Novo Nordisk will conduct a Phase 2b study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide and a fixed-dose combination of Gilead’s cilofexor and firsocostat in people suffering from compensated cirrhosis (F4) due to NASH.

This study, building on positive results from a Phase 2a proof-of-concept study, will evaluate the impact of the treatment on liver fibrosis improvement and NASH resolution. Recruitment is expected to begin in the second half of 2021.

Gilead’s Senior Vice President, Inflammation Clinical Development, Mark Genovese, MD, said, “Gilead is pleased to expand our collaboration with Novo Nordisk and advance understanding of the potential for combination approaches in treating people living with cirrhosos due to NASH.”

Martin Holst Lagne, Executive Vice President and Head of Development, Novo Nordisk, said, “NASH is a disease with a high unmet medical need, as no drugs are currently approved to treat this potentially life threatening condition. Building on the positive results from our proof-of-concept trial, we hope together with Gilead to demonstrate the potential for semaglutide with cilofexor and firsocostat to help people living with NASH.”

Additionally, on March 15, Gilead and Merck entered into an agreement to co-market and co-develop long-acting treatments in HIV that combine Gilead’s lenacapavir with Merck’s islatravir into a two-drug regimen. (See Gilead stock analysis on TipRanks)

On March 16, Credit Suisse analyst Evan Seigerman reiterated a Hold rating on Gilead and maintained a price target of $65. Commenting on the Merck partnership, Seigerman said, “Not only does this provide clarity on the highly anticipated combo agent with lenacapavir, but it also provides potential commercial synergies and a complementary profile for maximizing the effect of long-acting treatments.”

Turning to the rest of the Street, the stock has a Moderate Buy consensus rating alongside an average analyst price target of $78 (21% upside potential), based on 11 Buys, 5 Holds and 1 Sell. Shares have trended lower by about 14% over the past year.

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