Gilead Sciences Raises 2020 Sales Outlook to Include Covid-19 Treatment Remdesivir

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 2, 2020

Gilead Sciences Inc. swung to a loss in the June quarter following the acquisition of biotech company Forty Seven Inc. and reflecting higher costs as it ramps up production of Covid-19 drug remdesivir.

"We think this implies up to $1 billion to $3 billion of remdesivir, . a positive that was not expected at the start of the year", said Jefferies analyst Michael Yee.

Total product sales fell 10% to $5.1bn in the second quarter of the year, compared to $5.6bn in the same quarter last year and below analyst expectations.

Gilead has blamed a $3.3 billion loss in Q2 on its acquisition of immune-oncology company Forty Seven - but revenues are declining as the pandemic bit into sales of its hepatitis C drugs.

The company said it now expects its 2020 revenue to be in a range of $23.3 billion to $25 billion, up from its previous guidance of $21.8 billion to $22.2 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected a loss of 69 cents a share, or adjusted profit of $1.44, on $5.29 billion in revenue. The company said it expects its HIV drugs and hepatitis C sales to begin regaining momentum in the current third quarter.

The company also said it will study the use of remdesivir earlier in Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in upcoming trials as well as in combination "with other therapies and in additional patient groups". The drug was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May after it demonstrated an ability to shorten hospital stays for COVID-19 patients, but does not yet have full U.S. approval. It was approved in Japan. The European Commission signed a 63 million-euro ($74 million) contract with Gilead this week for batches of the drug to be made available in European Union countries from early August.

Gilead expects to have manufactured more than two million remdesivir treatment courses by the end of 2020, and several million more treatment courses in 2021.

The effectiveness of most interventions with remdesivir is uncertain because most of the trials so far have been small and have limitations, the authors said in a review for the journal.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is now conducting a trial of remdesivir in combination with Olumiant, an arthritis drug from Eli Lilly & Co, and those results are expected next month.

Remdesivir may be effective in reducing recovery time in patients with severe Covid-19, though more trials are needed to confirm this, the experts said.

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