Healthcare Stocks Undercut Earlier Market Advance; Gilead Sciences Sinks After Congress Questions Drug Price

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Gilead Sciences' ( GILD ) shares declined Friday after several House Democrats sent a letter to the company asking for an explanation on the price of its Sovaldi hepatitis C medication.

Because of the drug's $84,000 price tag per treatment, pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts ( ESRX ) is "encouraging some doctors in its networks to delay prescribing Sovaldi," according to the March 20 letter. Health officials operating Medicaid programs in Colorado and Pennsylvania also are limiting Sovaldi treatment to only the sickest of patients, they said.

"Our concern is that a treatment will not cure patients if they cannot afford it," wrote Reps. Henry Waxman, Frank Pallone and Diana DeGette, ranking members on the House Energy and Commerce, Health and Oversight and Investigations committees, respectively. The trio set an April 3 deadline for the company to respond.

GILD shares were down 5.3% at $71.56 each in recent trade, retracing much of a decline to $70.85 a share earlier in the session. The stock has a 52-week range of $44.76 to $84.88 a share, rising just 0.4% through yesterday's close since Sovaldi was approved for U.S. sales on Dec. 9.In other sector news,

(+) ECYT, Shares nearly double in value to a record high after its vintafolide drug candidate slowed the progression of lung cancer during Phase IIb testing, reducing the risk of patients' lung cancer worsening by 25% compared with chemotherapy alone.

(-) BIIB, Gives up worldwide rights to AV-203, a clinical-stage ErbB3 inhibitory antibody candidate, to AVEO Oncology ( AVEO ). The experimental drug showed no dose limiting toxicities across the entire dose range during Phase I testing last year.



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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: GILD , ESRX , AVEO

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