Gilead Sciences and its hep C juggernaut continued to churn out big sales in Q4 and bested Wall Street expectations, but it took strong growth overseas to overcome an expected falloff of sales of Sovaldi and Harvoni in the U.S.
Industry watchers have long been speculating on how Merck would take on heavyweights Gilead and AbbVie when it priced its new hep C regimen. And now, they have their answer: Undercut them. Big-time.
Two years after Gilead Sciences triggered a market quake with a groundbreaking approval for Sovaldi, Merck is making a late entrance into the hep C market.
Gilead Sciences is facing more hepatitis C pushback from state officials. The Massachusetts attorney general is warning that it will take legal action against the California-based company if it doesn't cut the price of its blockbuster antivirals Sovaldi and Harvoni.
Good news for Gilead Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb: Australia's federal government wants to eliminate hepatitis C in the country. And it plans to shell out $1 billion on the drugmakers' meds to do that.
Gilead Sciences, raking in revenue with its revolutionary hepatitis C franchise, is intensifying its M&A rhetoric as it sits on a huge pile of cash, scouting for deals in the $10 billion range.
Analysts handicapping the competitors in hepatitis C, current and future, say Gilead Sciences is likely to continue dominating the field, though it might cede some niches to newer rivals.
Merck, angling to compete with dominant hepatitis C treatments from Gilead Sciences and AbbVie, posted positive results for its in-development combos as it works to demonstrate their ability to cure more patients faster.
Gilead Sciences has been dealing with a slowdown for its hep C superstars Sovaldi and combo drug Harvoni, with prescriptions for the drugs petering off during the second quarter and analysts expecting things to continue in the same vein. As predicted the company's lagging momentum continued into Q3, with sales growth for its hep C treatments staying flat despite beats on earnings.
AbbVie's Viekira Pak and Technivie were developed to cure hepatitis C and so avoid the complications like liver transplants that can result from the disease. But the FDA said today that in some cases the two drugs may cause serious liver injury, even death, mostly in patients with underlying advanced liver disease, and told AbbVie it would have to add a warning to its labels.