Gilead Sciences' fourth-quarter revenue, profit surpass expectations on hepatitis C drug sales

Gilead Sciences announced Tuesday that its fourth-quarter revenue more than doubled to $7.3 billion, beating analyst estimates of $6.7 billion, due to strong sales for the hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni. Sovaldi amassed $1.7 billion in revenue, while Harvoni generated $2.1 billion in sales in its first quarter on the market following its approval in October.

Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum said that analysts expected sales of $2.0 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, for the two therapies. Meanwhile, the drugmaker stated that its quarterly profit more than tripled over the year-ago period to $3.5 billion.

For the full year, Gilead reported total revenue of $24.9 billion compared to 11.2 billion in the previous year. Meanwhile the company projects 2015 per-share earnings of $0.82 to $0.87 on product sales of $26 billion to $27 billion.

Gilead has received criticism for the prices of Sovaldi and Harvoni, which have been priced at $84 000 and $94 500, respectively, for a 12-week course of treatment. Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts granted preferred status to AbbVie's hepatitis C therapy Viekira Pak over Gilead's therapies after winning significant discounts from the former drugmaker.

Meanwhile, CVS Health reached an agreement giving Harvoni and Sovaldi exclusive coverage on its commercial plans and formularies, while Anthem later announced that Harvoni will be offered as the primary treatment option for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C infection. For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Gilead hits back in HCV price war – but at what cost?

Separately, Gilead also announced a $15-billion share buyback programme, as well as plans to issue a quarterly dividend of $0.43 per share beginning in the second quarter. The company noted that the repurchase programme does not replace its previously announced $5-billion buyback programme.

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