Marking 30 years of innovation in HIV R&D

Today, when we look at the wide range of effective treatment options for HIV, the world seems a vastly different place from thirty years ago. At that time AZT (Retrovir®, zidovudine) was approved in the US for the treatment of HIV. Developed in record time by Burroughs Wellcome, a legacy company to GSK, AZT became an approved medicine just three years after the HIV virus was identified as the cause of AIDS.

At that time, the life expectancy of people with HIV/AIDS was very limited, so finding a medicine was critically important. In the three decades since AZT’s approval, there have been significant strides in HIV research and now people with the virus have more treatment options.

Stigma and discrimination
There are a number of challenges that remain in the field, from the stigma and discrimination still faced by people living with HIV, to political and payer-related issues. From a medical and scientific standpoint, however, perhaps the greatest challenge remaining involves the continued burden of HIV treatment.

Innovation and commitment to HIV research has been integral to our R&D culture for many years. We are working to address this burden through further development of new HIV compounds and novel formulations, which are being examined to potentially reduce the number of days on which patients need to administer their medicines, as well as by ensuring there are formulations suitable for paediatric use.

Final goal: finding a functional cure
Perhaps the ‘final frontier’ for HIV at present though, is the idea of achieving ‘remission’ or a functional cure. Our history and the current state of research remind us that this outcome may still be some way off. 

We continue to build on our heritage by collaborating with other organisations and groups to learn and work together and to ultimately improve HIV care and patient quality of life.