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Is Gilead Sciences a Good Coronavirus Stock?

In this Fool Live video, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and longtime Motley Fool contributor Brian Orelli discuss the drugmakers that have developed treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Orelli points to Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), which has gained an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its antiviral remdesivir. But he stresses that investors should look at the biotech's entire portfolio of drugs and where future growth will come from.

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Corinne Cardina: Do any of the companies that do have products on the market stick out to you as particularly attractive?

Brian Orelli: I like Gilead and it's cheap, it's very cheap, but the problem is that they just haven't been able to ramp back up after their hepatitis C drug stated having competition that caused price erosion, and then also the number of patients went down substantially because it was a warehouse, a bolus of patients that were waiting for the treatments. So, all of those got the treatments, and then now, they're trying to find more hepatitis C patients, which -- you can be infected and not really know it for a really long time. They're pushing to get people tested for hepatitis C.

I thought NASH was going to be their big saving grace, but their NASH which is non-alcoholic stereo-something. It's a liver disease. I thought NASH was going to be their big saver, but it doesn't seem to have really played out. Their drugs, the most recent drugs haven't really worked very well or at all.

I think cancer seems like the new way they they're getting into the space, and obviously buying companies. they're buying Immunomedics (NASDAQ: IMMU), which already has a drug on the market. I like that strategy, but it may take a few years before that amount of sales can move the needle on $20 billion in sales -- and hepatitis C is maybe flattening out, hopefully. But that means to grow 10 percent, you got to have two blockbusters, so that's not an easy feat.

Corinne Cardina: Yeah, it seems like Gilead probably should have learned their lesson with the hepatitis situation where you're basically curing your target market, right? It's not a recurring drug, it's something you take for a short period of time. So I think increased testing is definitely an important component to get more out of these drugs that you've already put the R&D efforts into. Same thing with COVID. I mean, the more time, effort, and money goes into testing, the more people will get the treatments that they need, I think.

Brian Orelli: Yeah. Well, at least with COVID, you know you need a treatment because you start getting sick and you have symptoms. With hepatitis C, your liver is getting damaged a little bit every year, but it doesn't really affect people until they start having serious liver complications, and then it's almost too late.

Corinne Cardina: Great point, great point.

Brian Orelli, PhD and Corinne Cardina have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool recommends Immunomedics. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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