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New hepatitis C pill lifts Gilead's 4Q sales

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 6:07pm
The Associated Press

Gilead Sciences said Tuesday that sales of its hepatitis C pill Sovaldi totaled $139.4 million after the drug was approved in December, helping its fourth-quarter profit rise 4 percent.

The company reported $139.4 million in fourth-quarter revenue from Sovaldi, which was approved in the U.S. on Dec. 6 and was approved in Canada later in December. European Union regulators approved the drug in January, after the fourth quarter ended. Analysts expect the drug to be a multibillion-dollar blockbuster this year.

The Foster City, Calif., company's results in the fourth quarter were stronger than analysts expected. Gilead said its net income rose 4 percent to $791.4 million, or 47 cents per share. Excluding one-time items the company said it earned 55 cents per share. Its revenue grew 12 percent to $3.12 billion.

Analysts were expecting net income of 50 cents per share and $2.85 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Over the last few years a group of companies have raced to develop and get approval for new treatments for hepatitis C, a virus that can cause severe liver damage. Incivek, which is sold by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, quickly became a big seller after it was approved in 2011 because it cured more patients than older treatments. But Sovaldi is designed to work faster, and in clinical trials it cured 90 percent of patients after 12 weeks of treatment.

Patients who take Sovaldi and an older drug, ribavirin, can be treated with oral medications only. They don't need to take interferon, an injectable drug that can cause nausea, diarrhea and other unpleasant side effects. Current treatments for hepatitis C can last up to a year, and those regimens cure about three-quarters of patients.

Another new drug, Johnson & Johnson's Olysio, was also approved in late 2013. Many analysts think Sovaldi will come to dominate the market, and Gilead is running additional trials that combine it with other experimental drugs. Sovaldi costs $84,000 for a 12-week course.

Gilead also said sales of most of its HIV treatments improved. Revenue from Atripla sales rose 2 percent to $933.6 million while Viread sales grew 18 percent to $266.9 million, revenue from Complera and Eviplera more than doubled to $261.8 million and sales of its four-in-one pill Stribild climbed to $203.8 million from $40 million. Sales of another drug, Truvada, fell 2 percent to $814.1 million.

In 2013 Gilead said its net income climbed 19 percent to $3.07 billion, or $1.81 per share. Excluding one-time charges the company said its profit totaled $2.04 per share. Revenue grew 15 percent to $11.2 billion.

The company said it expects $11.3 billion to $11.5 billion in revenue in 2014 excluding sales of Sovaldi. Analysts expect $14.71 billion in total revenue.

Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc. rose $3.19, or 4.1 percent, to $82.02 during the day and lost 3 cents to $81.99 in aftermarket trading.

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