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117,000 hepatitis C patients receive Sovaldi so far

Breakthrough drug has made $8.5bn for Gilead this year
Gilead Sovaldi

Gilead Sciences' blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has been used in around 117,000 people since its launch at the end of last year, said the company in its latest financial report.

Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which allows patients to be treated without the need for weekly injectable interferon, has been the most lucrative pharma launch of all time, and has recorded revenues of $8.5bn in the first nine months of 2014 and $2.8bn for the three-month period between July and September.

This uptake has been despite criticism from some corners of the US unhappy with the drug's high price – around $84,000 per standard course of treatment – with senators asking Gilead to justify the cost of Sovaldi.

Around 70% of US state Medicaid programmes have implemented controls on Sovaldi prescribing - including prior authorisation requirements based on disease severity  - amid warnings that some healthcare systems may buckle under the strain of providing the drug.

Nevertheless the massive revenues so far put Sovaldi way ahead of Gilead's second biggest selling medicine Atripla, a combination of several HIV treatments. The drug made $2.5bn for the first nine months of the year and just under $900m over the third quarter, both slightly down on the same periods last year.

The huge boost from Sovaldi saw Gilead's total revenues rocket from $8.1bn for the first nine months of 2013 to $17.5bn for the same period in 2014.

Net income was also up, with Gilead taking $8.6bn for the first nine months of 2014 compared to $2.3bn a year previous.

Company revenues should continue to grow with the upcoming launch of Harvoni, a combination of Sovaldi and other hepatitis C treatment ledipasvir.

The drug was recommended for use in Europe at the end of September and approved in the US a couple of weeks later and expectations are high, with trial data demonstrating the drug can cure as many as 90% of patients within just eight weeks.

Article by
Thomas Meek

29th October 2014

From: Research, Sales

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