Gilead sales leap 21%, thanks to fast-growing HIV pills Stribild, Complera

Gilead CEO John Martin

All the buzz about Gilead Sciences ($GILD) lately has been about hepatitis C. And no wonder: It has Sovaldi on its hands, a brand-new, breakthrough treatment expected to barrel past the blockbuster barrier almost immediately--and hit up to $7 billion in sales this year.

But as the company's fourth-quarter and 2013 earnings report shows, Gilead's HIV meds still have plenty to contribute. With sales of just $139 million for the quarter, Sovaldi represented a small fraction of its $3.12 billion in Q4 revenue, and even more so compared with the $11.2 billion for the full year. Meanwhile, its brand-new HIV treatment, Stribild, more than quadrupled sales for the quarter, to $203.8 million.

One of FiercePharma's top 15 drug launch superstars, Stribild brought in more than a half-billion for the full year--$539.2 million. Analysts figure the four-drugs-in-one-pill treatment--also known as "the Quad"--can hit $3.54 billion by 2018. Complera, another new HIV drug, more than doubled sales for the year, ending up with $809 million.

Overall, Gilead product sales were up 21% for the quarter and 15% for the year, beating analyst estimates in both cases. Profits were up 4% on the quarter, with earnings per share flat at 47 cents.

Gilead execs are already reaping the rewards of the big-growth year. As the San Francisco Business Times reports, CEO John Martin scored a $3.5 million bonus, while President and COO John Milligan won $1.5 million and CSO Norbert Bischofberger won $1.1 million. Historically, much of the compensation among this group comes in share awards and options, and with Martin among the highest-paid executives in the industry, that's likely to be sizable. Last year, his total compensation package amounted to more than $15 million.

Its 2014 forecast is for between $11.3 billion and $11.5 billion in sales, but that leaves out its hep C revenues, obviously expected in the multibillions. As ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum pointed out in an investor note, "These guys are incredibly conservative historically."

And leaving out the new meds makes sure Gilead will beat that 2014 number--if not the current analyst projection of almost $15 billion. Besides Sovaldi's expected zoom in sales, there's a Sovaldi combination pill now awaiting review by the FDA. It's predicted to hit the ground at a gallop as well.

With sales and profits both up--and bonuses already announced--Gilead could draw more fire from activists, who have long lamented the prices of its HIV meds. Now, Sovaldi is in their cross hairs, even to the point of fighting patent protection for the drug in India. But yesterday, FiercePharma reported that the company is in talks with Indian drugmakers to sell the new treatment in emerging markets, including India, with a target price of about $2,000 per treatment course. That's lower than the current standard of care, and far lower than its U.S. price of $84,000.

- see the release from Gilead
- get more from the Business Times
- read FiercePharmaMarketing's take

Special Reports: Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars - Stribild | 20 Highest-Paid Biopharma CEOs of 2012 - John Martin, Gilead Sciences