Truvada use expected to be limited in U.S.

For all of the attention Gilead's ($GILD) Truvada has gotten as the first drug FDA-approved for use in preventing HIV infections, there is little expectation that it will get widespread use in the U.S. The consensus, even among financial analysts, is that it is likely to get more use in developing countries where it might help contain rising costs associated with the spread of HIV.

Even the head of the Gilead Foundation, Howard Jaffe, tells Reuters the use of Truvada will probably be limited in the U.S. "We are not expecting a meaningful increase or uptick in Truvada use from it," Jaffe said.

The FDA's approval of Truvada in July received a lot of attention since it is the first AIDS vaccine. Studies sponsored by Gilead show if taken every day, the drug mitigates infection risk by more than 90%. But at $1,400 a year, the drug, which is already used for treating HIV, is expensive, and many of the potential users, like those in the sex trades, may not be insured. It is also expected to be difficult to get healthy people to stick to a regimen of taking a pill every day and then going for HIV testing every three months, Reuters reports. It says researchers are investigating other ways to administer the drug that might increase the likelihood of its use, such long-acting injections, gels and vaginal rings.

Analysts have limited expectations. "When we talk to our physician consultants who target HIV patients, they say they are not going to use much of it (Truvada) for prevention," Cowen & Co. analyst Phil Nadeau tells Reuters. Many have greater expectations for Gilead's Stribild, aka Quad, the four-in-one HIV drug which was approved last month. Analysts are predicting $2.5 billion in Stribild sales by 2015, and $4.7 billion at its peak.

- read the Reuters story 

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