Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Gilead Slips as Sales of Blockbuster Hepatitis Drugs FadeBy
Product sales guidance disappoints, sending shares downward
Drugmaker pivoting to complex cancer medicines after Kite deal
Gilead Sciences Inc. shares slipped after the biotechnology giant issued a disappointing sales outlook for drugs that once helped drive its profits.
Product sales for 2018 will be $20 billion to $21 billion, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. That’s below the $21.3 billion analysts were expecting, according to Barclays Plc.
Shares fell 1.6 percent to $79.06 at 5:31 p.m. in late trading in New York.
Gilead has been working to diversify its pipeline as sales of its blockbuster hepatitis C drugs begin to fade. The treatments brought in $9.1 billion in 2017, but demand has steadily declined as the easiest-to-find patients have received treatment. Gilead expects 2018 hepatitis C sales to be $3.5 billion to $4 billion, according to a slide presentation for investors -- well short of the $5.45 billion average of analyst expectations compiled by Bloomberg.
The Foster City, California-based drugmaker is looking for growth from new disease areas such as cancer and NASH, a liver condition. In October, it acquired Kite Pharma Inc., venturing into the highly competitive cancer field with a technology that is both innovative and extremely complex.
Kite’s first approved treatment, Yescarta, had $7 million in sales in the fourth quarter. Gilead now has 28 centers certified to treat patients with the therapy, known as CAR-T, and sees a “slowly growing momentum” in patient enrollment at those locations, Chief Executive Officer John Milligan said in a conference call on Tuesday.
Gilead will continue to seek out technologies that can expand its presence in CAR-T, said Milligan, including ways to go after solid tumors and methods to lessen the side effects of the treatment.
While Gilead won’t reap as much of a benefit from the tax overhaul as some of its biotechnology peers, it does expect a lower tax rate of 21 percent to 23 percent in 2018, according to the statement.
Fourth-quarter earnings were $1.78 per share, topping analysts’ expectations of $1.67 per share. Revenue also beat expectations, with top hepatitis C treatment Harvoni bringing in $644 million.