Gilead Sciences, Inc . GILD announced that it plans to launch authorized generic versions of its leading hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatments - Epclusa (sofosbuvir 400mg/velpatasvir 100mg) and Harvoni (ledipasvir 90mg/sofosbuvir 400mg).
The generic versions will be launched through a newly created subsidiary, Asegua Therapeutics LLC at a list price of $24,000 for the most common course of therapy. These will be available from January 2019.
We remind investors that a couple of years ago, Gilead was under the scanner of regulatory bodies for high prices of drugs.
Gilead decided to launch generics as the company believes that the discounts provided by the company do not always translate into lower costs for patients.
Of late, there has been a lot of debate on the high prices of drugs and affordable healthcare for all.
The main focus of the company is lower the list price of Epclusa. Per the company, Epclusa was the first HCV therapy proven to effectively treat all six main Hep C genotypes, with a simple one-pill, once-a-day treatment regimen for the majority of patients. The drug was approved in the United States in 2016.
The launch of the generics might boost the dwindling HCV sales of the company. Harvoni and Sovaldi have been facing competition from AbbVie's ABBV Viekira Pak and Viekira XR, and Merck's MRK Zepatier, among others. The franchise suffered a significant plunge in sales due to new competition and fewer patient starts.
Gilead's stock has gained 8.3% in the year so far against the industry's decline of 2.1%.
Consequently, Gilead is now banking on its HIV franchise and newer avenues, like the CAR-T therapy, to drive growth. However, the company will have to generate substantial revenues from its HIV franchise and Yescarta to offset the HCV sales decline. This will be a challenging task for the company with stiff competition from the likes of GlaxoSmithKline GSK in the HIV market.
Gilead carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .
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