Gilead ups forecasts as new HIV drug boosts sales

Gilead has become the latest pharma company to raise its full year sales forecasts following stronger than expected Q2 results.

AstraZeneca and Sanofi have already upped their forecasts for this year following their Q2 results, and the US pharma is also on the front foot following higher sales of HIV treatments.

Gilead said it now expects 2019 sales of $21.6 billion to rise to $22.1 billion in 2019, up from its previous forecast of $21.3 billion to $21.8 billion.

Sales of HIV drugs accounted for 71% of total sales and rose to $4.04 billion from $3.67 billion last year.

This was driven by Biktarvy, a three-drug cocktail in a single pill that keeps HIV, designed to be more tolerable and convenient than its older combinations typically based around the “backbone” of Truvada plus another pill.

Biktarvy was only approved in the US in February last year, but is already a blockbuster with sales of almost $1.2 billion.

Hepatitis C drug sales continued their decline, caused by tough competition in a shrinking market where many patients have been cured over the last few years, thanks to drugs from Gilead and its competitors including AbbVie.

Sales fell to $842 million from $1 billion, but this was still better than the $714 million predicted by analysts.

Total revenue was up slightly to $5.69 billion, from $5.65 billion, ahead of analysts’ estimates of $5.53 billion. Net income was almost $1.9 billion, up 3.5% from last year’s Q2.

Gilead’s CAR-T cancer cell therapy Yescarta is also gathering momentum, with sales of $120 million in Q2, compared with $68 million in last year’s Q2.

The results come as new CEO Daniel O’Day is making his mark on the business by taking it in new directions.

O’Day has already made several changes to the company’s senior management team, last month poaching Christi Shaw from Eli Lilly to run its cancer immunotherapy unit, Kite.

Gilead has also invested $5.1 billion in the Belgian biotech Galapagos to develop inflammatory disease and rheumatoid arthritis drugs.

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