Gilead, after setbacks, aims to pull a third of its revenue from oncology business by 2030

Amid a flood of mostly bad news over its recent efforts in oncology, Gilead took a step back last week, presenting a long-term outlook at its prospects and showing (PDF) how it plans to become a major cancer player by the end of the decade.

If all goes as planned according to its Oncology Deep Dive presentation, Gilead will derive a third of its revenue from oncology products by 2030. That will require a major transformation as the company made less than $2 billion of its $27 billion in sales from cancer drugs in 2021.

The 2021 oncology sales came from six products, with the bulk generated by breast cancer drug Trodelvy ($380 million) and cell therapies Yescarta ($695 million) and Tecartus ($176 million).

Sales for those drugs—which all are relatively new—should continue to increase. Another big payoff, as Gilead sees it, should come from its 20 oncology drugs currently in the pipeline.

The company has 30 clinical trials underway involving these and its already-approved drugs and it said figures to garner approvals in 20-plus indications by the end of the decade. There also will be a focus on testing combination treatments as those will account for more than half of Gilead’s 50 trials planned in oncology.

For a while, Gilead has targeted cancer as priority. The push became heightened in 2018 when it lured Daniel O’Day from Roche, based largely on his success in leading development efforts in oncology.

But as Gilead CEO, O’Day has had some big swings and misses. A $5 billion deal with Belgian biotech Galapagos flopped.

Another biotech acquisition for nearly $5 billion, that of Forty Seven, looked dubious in January when the primary cancer drug gained in the deal was put on clinical hold. But earlier this month, the FDA lifted its hold on five of the seven trials Gilead was conducing for magrolimab.

O’Day’s biggest acquisition, a $21 billion purchase of Immunomedics and its potential blockbuster Trodelvy, is being questioned after the company reported a successful trial result for the drug in breast cancer last month while curiously withholding data from the study.

In its presentation last week, Gilead mapped out the 30+ transactions it has made over the last five years designed to enhance its oncology portfolio, starting with a 2017 deal to acquire cell and gene therapy specialist Kite. Five years later, Kite has produced three approvals for Yescarta and two for Tecartus, with 19 studies now in progress.

The reason for the push to diversify was never more apparent than in 2021. While Gilead’s revenue increased by 11%, it was due nearly entirely to sales of COVID-19 antiviral Veklury, which generated sales of $5.6 billion.

Gilead has long been heavily dependent on its HIV and hepatitis C products, which delivered combined sales of $18.4 billion last year, but that number is down from $19 billion in 2020.