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Remdesivir producer Gilead Sciences sees a 10% drop in gross sales within the second quarter as demand for non-coronavirus medicine decreases

A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of Remdesivir to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California.

Gilead Sciences | about REUTERS

Gilead Sciences sales were down 10% year-over-year in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic weakened demand for some of its drugs, including some of its key hepatitis treatments.

The company, which released its results on Thursday, was also hit by generic competitors and the acquisition of cancer drug maker Forty Seven. Gilead's shares fell 2% in after-hours trading.

Gilead’s total product sales decreased 10% to $ 5.1 billion in the second quarter, compared to $ 5.6 billion in the previous year and less than the $ 5.31 billion expected by analysts. The company reported an adjusted earnings per share of $ 1.11, which is below the forecast of $ 1.45 per share by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

"The impact of COVID-19 on Gilead's business remains subject to a high degree of uncertainty given the unpredictable dynamics of incidence, prevalence and efforts to treat COVID-19 worldwide," the company wrote in its earnings release.

The company announced that sales of its HIV drug business decreased 1% to $ 4 billion in the second quarter. HCV unit sales decreased 47% to $ 448 million due to fewer people staying at home in the US and Europe and fewer screenings due to the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are no FDA-approved medications for the coronavirus that has infected more than 16 million people worldwide and killed at least 667,808 people.

In May, the FDA granted Gilead's anti-viral drug Remdesivir an emergency approval that allows hospitals and doctors to use the drug on patients with the disease in hospital, even though the drug has not been officially approved by the agency. The intravenous drug has helped shorten the recovery time of some hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced a contract on June 29 that would provide the U.S. with more than 500,000 antiviral drug treatment courses for U.S. hospitals by September. This corresponds to 100% of Gilead's planned production for July and 90% of production for August and September, the agency said

Gilead sells Remdesivir for $ 520 per vial to privately insured patients in the United States and $ 390 per vial to federal insurance programs such as Medicare and abroad. The majority of patients treated with Remdesivir receive a five-day course with six vials of Remdesivir, the company said.

This would increase the cost of Medicare foreign and US patients to $ 2,340 and US Patients with private health insurance to $ 3,120.

During a conference call on the results, Gilead executives said they are expected to sell 1 to 1.5 million treatment courses of the drug this year.

They also said they continue to develop an inhaled version of the antiviral drug.

In June, the company announced that it would begin human trials for the inhaled version. The drug cannot be administered in pill form because its chemical composition would affect the liver, the company said.

They deliver the drug through a nebulizer, a delivery device that can turn liquid medication into mist.

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