Gilead Rises To Highest Price on Potential Drug Sales
Stock Chart for Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD)
Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) rose to its highest price ever on optimism over potential sales for the company’s experimental hepatitis C medications.
Gilead gained 5.7 percent to $55.15 at 4 p.m. New York time, its highest closing value since the stock first started trading in 1992. The shares of the Foster City, California-based company have more than doubled in the past 12 months.
Gilead estimated during an earnings conference call yesterday that 150,000 patients infected with hepatitis C may seek treatment in the U.S. alone once a new class of all-oral drugs is on the market, compared with 85,000 patients taking therapies last year. That means the current analysts’ consensus estimates of $5 billion to $7 billion in sales for Gilead’s hepatitis C treatments are too low, Michael Yee, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco, said in a note.
“We believe the market will grow significantly” after the drugs are approved, Bret Holley, an analyst with Guggenheim Partners in New York, wrote in a note to clients today.
Gilead said yesterday its all-oral hepatitis C treatments sofosbuvir and ledipasvir cured 95 percent of patients after eight weeks of the therapy. The company is moving the drugs into a third of three stages of clinical trials typically required for U.S. regulatory approval.
The interim results from a mid-stage study called Lonestar show Gilead’s combination works well without ribavirin, an antiviral that is paired with interferon for as long as a year as part of the current standard treatment.
Gilead is competing with drugmakers including AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) in the quest for hepatitis C regimens that don’t involve injections of interferon, which can cause flu-like symptoms and depression. Hepatitis C affects about 150 million people worldwide and the market for new pills is estimated at $20 billion.
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