Five Things to Watch as Gilead Launches New HIV Drug

By Brett Chase  AUG 28, 2012 1:35 PM

The US approval of Stribild is a big plus for the company's HIV treatment franchise.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The story line for Gilead Sciences (GILD) dramatically changed earlier this year when the company made a big bet on an experimental treatment for hepatitis C. After building its reputation as the dominant maker of HIV drugs, the $11 billion takeover of Pharmasset transformed Gilead into a leading developer of hepatitis treatments.

Yet Gilead’s just-announced approval of a four-in-one pill to treat HIV is still a very significant event for the large biotech company. The once-daily drug, Stribild, will cost almost $29,000 a year. It aims to make the task of daily drug regimens easier for those infected with the AIDS virus.

“Therapies that address the individual needs of patients are critical to enhancing adherence and increasing the potential for treatment success,” Gilead CEO John C. Martins says in a statement.

Approval was widely expected, which explains why the stock is only up 1% to $57.79 Tuesday. The shares are up more than 40% on the year, largely due to excitement about the company’s prospects for eventually bringing a new hepatitis treatment to market.

Stribild is important to Gilead’s near-term strategy. Here are five things to watch as the company is set to launch the drug:
Stribild is a combination of two older drugs -- Viread and Emtriva -- and a pair of experimental therapies. The experimental drugs are elvitegravir which is part of a new class known as integrase inhibitors, and cobicistat, a booster drug similar to Abbott Laboratories’ (ABT) Norvir.
"Positive data from ongoing switching trials could increase confidence amongst physicians reluctant to deviate from existing therapies," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Joel Sendek says in a note Tuesday.
Twitter: @brettchase

No positions in stocks mentioned.

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