Gilead Doubles Share Buyback Plans With $5 Billion Pool

Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD), the maker of a hepatitis C treatment projected to be the best-selling drug of all time, said it would double the size of an existing $5 billion share buyback program.

With the new $5 billion pool, the biotechnology drug company has $7.9 billion to repurchase some of its $121.1 billion in outstanding shares. The company’s stock has fallen below its 52-week high of $83.95 after criticism of the $1,000-per-pill price of the hepatitis C treatment, called Sovaldi. The shares closed today at $78.77 in New York.

The $2.9 billion left from the 2011 buyback program will be spent by September, Gilead said in a statement. The Foster City, California-based company, the world’s largest maker of AIDS drugs, then will have three years to use the new $5 billion.

Sovaldi is among a group of new treatments for the viral liver infection that will do away with side-effect heavy injections. It offers higher cure rates and shorter treatment durations than previous therapies at a price tag of $84,000 for a 12-week course.

The medicine generated revenue of $2.27 billion in the first quarter after approval last year, the fastest drug sales introduction in history. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg predict sales of $13.7 billion in 2017, which would make it the biggest drug ever, topping Pfizer Inc.’s best-selling cholesterol pill, Lipitor.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at Andrew Pollack, Ben Livesey

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.