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Oct 28, 2020

Gilead's COVID therapy remdesivir beats sales estimates

Gordon Reid discusses Gilead

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Gilead Sciences Inc. reported US$873 million in third-quarter sales of its coronavirus therapy Veklury, above analysts’ expectations, as the company transitions to commercial sales for the medicine.

The numbers are closely watched as this is the first period of sales for the antiviral, better known by its generic name remdesivir, after Gilead completed a donation of the first 1.5 million doses of the drug in July. The drugmaker lowered the high end of its estimate for fiscal year earnings per share to US$6.60 from US$7.65.

Key Insights

  • After receiving an emergency authorization in May, Veklury became the first COVID-19 medicine to get full U.S. approval earlier this month, based on a U.S. study showing hospitalized patients who got it recovered about five days faster.
  • The approval is controversial because a giant World Health Organization study released this month found it didn’t save lives. Gilead is charging U.S. hospitals US$3,120 for a typical patient course of the coronavirus drug.
  • Gilead reported HIV drug sales of US$4.5 billion, compared with US$4.2 billion the previous year. Sales of the HIV drug Biktarvy were US$1.89 billion, versus analysts’ expectations for US$1.77 billion.
  • Hepatitis C drug sales remain weak, declining 31 per cent to US$464 million.

Market Reaction

  • Gilead shares rose 1.8 per cent in late trading; the stock has fallen 9.6 per cent this year through Wednesday’s close.