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Gilead's Bold Combo

Executive Summary

Gilead is making a play to dominate the market for HIV treatments. It approached competing companies BMS and Merck about creating a triple-therapy well before the FDA suggested these three work together. Such an alliance directly threatens GSK. Gilead isn't just talking--it's running a head-to-head trial of a combination therapy featuring two of its drugs against another combo that includes Glaxo's. Positive data for Gilead would definitely power its bid to dominate the market.

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Gilead's Global Logic

Gilead plans to maximize the value of its newly-approved anti-HIV drug Viread by launching the product in all major world markets within a year-and by promoting it with the same look, messages and image everywhere. Gilead's campaign will make the point that its product helps patients' drug combinations work better, even if they're failing. By positioning the product this way, Gilead may avoid head-to-head competition with far bigger players. The company got into position to globally market Viread by acquiring NeXstar in 1999, then quickly re-organizing and filling out the very skinny marketing groups it inherited in major European markets. The relatively small company is betting that the cost efficiencies of global branding will bring it a better return on investment, and so help it grow a business that is already highly valued.

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