After being a dominant player in the hepatitis C market with its drug Sovaldi, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) is now eyeing to monetize from the next global epidemic, NASH, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. NASH is a modern day progressive liver-disease, stemming from obesity with no medication available so far. The disease is a bonanza to pharmaceutical companies like Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), as it is estimated that treatment costs for NASH could soar by as much as $40 billion over the next decade. A CNBC report throws light on how the disease could translate into big money to the pharmaceuticals along with the inputs from Deutsche Bank’s analyst, Alethia Young.
As drugmakers see the NASH affected cases to grow significantly in the upcoming years, Young cited: “At least, probably six million or six and a half million people with advanced NASH, meaning they have scarring or hardening of their liver. Conservatively, here in the U.S., then in Europe and the big five nations, it’s about the same. So, it’s about 12-13 million people.”
Those numbers are only an estimate of the people at advanced levels, therefore, if cases of preliminary or early stages are taken in account, then the patients are 30 million alone in the U.S. Thus, the market could be between $35 to $40 billion by 2020-2025.
Ahead of the potential market, three of the companies, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) and France-based Genfit are in the race to develop the first Nash drug. The results of the ongoing studies in this direction will begin to unfold by the end of the year. But Young estimates that there is a need to wait for another couple of years in order to get satisfactory data about the safety and efficacy of the drugs as she sees the drugs hit the shelves only towards the year 2020. As of now, Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) is the only company to provide positive data from its drug OCA (Obeticholic acid), after which its stocks have tripled in value. Analysts say that if companies add further positive results than their shares could double, but any negative data could mean a straight cut to half.