1. Winner: Gilead Sciences

Company: Gilead Sciences
Symbol: $GILD
Beginning price: $41.86
Ending price: $76.12
Gain: 81.84%

Gilead ($GILD) has been riding a wave of investor excitement over the belief it is at the front of the line for developing an an all-oral, interferon-free combination cocktail for certain patients with chronic hepatitis C virus in the U.S. The company has reported clinical cures for about 75% of patients with genotypes 2 or 3 of the liver-damaging virus in a Phase III trial of a combo of its experimental "nuc" sofosbuvir and standard ribavirin. That came just after it mesmerized analysts with a 100% cure rate for patients with genotype 1 in a small Phase II study of sofosbuvir, Gilead's NS5A inhibitor GS-5885 and ribavirin.

There are other companies whose interferon-free therapies have thrown up impressive numbers of their own, such as Abbott ($ABT) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY). They are all jockeying for what they hope will be the biggest piece of a market that forecasts put at $15 billion in 5 years and $20 billion by 2020. It also has extended its blockbuster HIV drug franchise with Truvada, the first approved HIV vaccine for patients that are not infected but at high risk, and then with Quad, its four-in-one HIV drug that is expected to get quick uptake despite the steep price of $28,500 a year.

For more:
Special Report: Hep C pill race report 2012: Gilead, others rush toward pharma gold
Analysts tap Gilead as front-runner in high-stakes race for hep C blockbuster
Gilead leaps to first PhIII success for all-oral hepatitis C drug program
FDA OK for HIV pill Quad sets up showdown over Gilead's price

1. Winner: Gilead Sciences

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