Analysts: Gilead's hep C scripts keep slowing, and Q3 sales forecasts should too

Last quarter, Gilead ($GILD) reported a slowdown for its quick-launching hep C treatments--and that's a trend that's still ongoing, according to a pair of RBC Capital Markets analysts.

According to Michael Yee and Adnan Butt, in the week ended Aug. 14, new prescriptions of next-gen pill Sovaldi and combo regimen Harvoni tallied 3,296, down 1% week-over-week. Total prescriptions of the pair reached 9,375, recording a 2% drop.

Gilead's management isn't worried about the slowdown, though--and investors shouldn't be, either, the execs said on the company's Q2 conference call last month. While fewer patients will start treatment with the meds in the second half of the year than did during H1, Gilead has only "touched the tip of the iceberg" when it comes to its patient pool, CEO John Martin said.

Gilead CEO John Martin

On top of that, the California company's management believes payer restrictions "could open up over time based on stability and more calm behavior in the landscape, better budgets, and real world data and cures that are occurring at a better-than-expected rate," Yee and Butt said. And Gilead has already raised its 2015 guidance, which they estimate implies hep C revenues that could reach $17.5 billion worldwide, edging out analysts' estimates of $17.4 billion.

But the way the analysts see it, the consensus on U.S. sales "needs to come down for the year," they said, as quoted by Barron's. For Q3, Harvoni is tracking toward $2.1 billion in U.S. sales versus a consensus mark of $2.5 billion, they figure. The Harvoni/Sovaldi franchise should hit at $2.6 billion--below the $2.9 billion consensus mark.

Meanwhile, industry watchers are wondering where the drugmaker plans to spend the money the pair of superstar drugs--which posted nearly $5 billion in Q2 revenue--has already generated.

"The biggest question on everyone's mind for Gilead is who you're going to buy, who you're going to buy, who you're going to buy, who you're going to buy, who you're going to buy," Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum said on the call.

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