Gilead earnings firm, but company gets shot in arm from Vertex setback

Gilead Sciences ($GILD) turned in second-quarter earnings that were pretty much in line with analysts' projections Thursday, then caught a break in the same day that pushed up its shares in after-hours trading, according to Reuters. Gilead's candidate for treating hepatitis C was already considered the frontrunner in a horse race for the billions of dollars to be derived from this category. One of those in contention is Vertex Pharmaceuticals ($VRTX), but Vertex said Thursday that the FDA had placed a partial hold on U.S. development of a 200 mg dose of VX-135 after three patients in a European study showed signs of liver toxicity after taking 400 mg doses of the compound, according to FierceBiotech. That news kicked up the price of Gilead shares in after-hours trading. They were up more than 2.25% today in midmorning trading. Vertex has formed alliances with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in a quest for hep C treatments. The market for an effective new treatment is projected to be $20 billion globally. The disease is a leading cause of liver cancer. Gilead, which is the leader in HIV medications, reported a second-quarter net profit of $772.6 million up from $711.6 million in the same quarter last year, Reuters reported. Story | More