Gilead Sciences 2Q profit jumps 23 pct., tops Street views, propelled by hepatitis C medicines

Industries Associated Press

Blockbuster hepatitis C medicine Harvoni lifted Gilead Sciences' second-quarter profit by 23 percent as total revenue for the biotech drugmaker jumped 26 percent and it raised its 2015 sales forecast for the second time.

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Gilead Sciences Inc., based in Foster City, California, said Tuesday that its net income was $4.49 billion, or $2.92 per share. That was up from $3.66 billion, or $2.20 per share, in 2014's second quarter.

The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.64 per share.

Revenue soared to $8.24 billion, up from $6.54 billion a year ago. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $7.36 billion.

Gilead's market-leading hepatitis C franchise accounted for a whopping 59 percent of that, with Harvoni bringing in an astounding $3.61 billion after just 10 months on the market, and its predecessor, Sovaldi, drawing $1.29 billion.

Gilead, until recently known mostly for its widely used HIV medicines — Truvada, Stribild and Complera — catapulted to become the world's ninth-biggest drugmaker by revenue, up from No. 20 last year, propelled by Harvoni and, to a lesser extent, by Sovaldi. That was launched in December 2013, followed by Harvoni last October.

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Harvoni, which carries a list price of about $95,000 for a 12-week course of treatment, includes Sovaldi and a second drug, ledipasvir. The company says it cures 96 percent to 99 percent of previously untreated patients with the liver-destroying virus. Since its approval last October, sales have plunged for Sovaldi, which costs about $84,000 for a course of treatment.

Those drugs and AbbVie Inc.'s Viekira Pak, launched in December, have dramatically changed treatment for hepatitis C, which for decades required pills and periodic injections that caused awful flu-like side effects, lasted for up to a year and only cured about 60 percent of patients.

Roughly 2.7 million Americans have it and millions more in other countries are infected. Over many years, it silently causes cirrhosis, liver failure requiring a transplant, liver cancer and other damage. The three new drugs have slashed treatment time to 12 weeks on average and boosted cure rates to more than 90 percent, depending on which of several strains, or genotypes, the patient has and how advanced their disease is.

In the HIV franchise, Truvada posted sales of $849 million, and Stribild had $447 million, both up sharply, while Atripla sales dipped to $782 million. Other, smaller drugs had combined revenue of $495 million.

Gilead raised its revenue forecast to $29 billion to $30 billion for the full year, up from its initial 2015 forecast in February for $26 billion to $27 billion. It kept its earnings per share forecast at 82 cents to 87 cents per share.

In after-hours trading, Gilead shares added $3.55, or 3.1 percent, to $116.62.

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