Remdesivir Gets Lukewarm Endorsement From Experts in Covid Fight

Gilead Sciences Raises 2020 Sales Outlook to Include Covid-19 Treatment Remdesivir

Remdesivir Gets Lukewarm Endorsement From Experts in Covid Fight

Gilead Sciences Inc. swung to a loss in the June quarter following the acquisition of biotech company Forty Seven Inc. and reflecting higher costs as it ramps up production of Covid-19 drug remdesivir.

Gilead's second-quarter sales fell almost 10% from a year earlier to $5.1 billion, short of the average analyst estimate of $5.3 billion, according to Refinitiv.

Gilead has struggled to meet demand for remdesivir because of the drug's complex manufacturing process, and supply chain slowdowns resulting from pandemic lockdowns.

Gilead said it expects to sell one million to 1.5 million treatment courses of remdesivir in the second half of the year.

The company said it now expects its 2020 revenue to be in a range of $23.3 billion to $25 billion, up from its previous guidance of $21.8 billion to $22.2 billion.

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Adjusted earnings for the second quarter of $1.11 per share fell short of analysts' average estimate by 34 cents.

Shares of Gilead, which closed up about 1% in regular trading, were down 3.5% at $69.80 in extended trading.

HIV product sales decreased 1% to $4bn in the second quarter, while its hepatitis sales took the brunt of the hit with a 47% decrease to $448m, compared to $842m in the second quarter past year.

The overall trend in Gilead's hepatitis C franchise is down as the market is shrinking as patients are cured by its drugs and those of rivals such as AbbVie.

In the USA, product sales also decreased 7% to $3.8bn, which Gilead again attributed to COVID-19 disruption to its hepatitis C product sales, as well as lower sales of its pulmonary hypertension drug Letairis (ambrisentan) and chest pain med Ranexa (ranolazine) after generic entries hit the market in the first half of 2019. It was approved in Japan.

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Gilead expects to have manufactured more than two million remdesivir treatment courses by the end of 2020, and several million more treatment courses in 2021.

The company said it has launched a clinical trial of an inhaled formulation of remdesivir, with the aim of more effectively delivering the drug to lung tissue.

"Gilead's first half performance demonstrates the strength and durability of our core HIV business, even as we navigated the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic", Mr. O'Day said in a statement, adding that Gilead was seeing early signs of recovery.

It also plans to test remdesivir in combination with Eli Lilly's Olumiant (baricitinib), a JAK inhibitor already used in inflammatory diseases, and Roche's IL-6 drug Actemra (tocilizumab).

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