Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) has switched course and has begun aggressive marketing of its HIV drug Truvada as a preventative medicine for HIV-negative healthy people. The company initially struggled with conflicting views of pitching Truvada for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Some patient activists argued that promoting Truvada as a preventative drug for HIV would encourage unsafe practices and cause promiscuity to flourish. Those concerns caused Gilead to go slow on spreading Truvada’s PrEP message. But the company also started facing pressure from other activists who reasoned that staying mum on the PrEP capabilities of Truvada was bad for people who needed help from the drug, such as those who share needles.
After listening to both sides of the arguments, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) has come to the conclusion that it is important to lift the lid on Truvada’s preventative properties. Pitching Truvada for PrEP would not only save many Americans from catching HIV, but also unlock a revenue opportunity for Gilead.
As per CDC estimates some 1.2 million people in the U.S. are at high risk of being infected by HIV. If that is the case, then the sales opportunity for Truvada in preventative market is significant.
The uptake of Truvada for PrEP is gaining momentum rapidly since Gilead started getting the word out broadly. Gilead first targeted doctors with Truvada for PrEP promotions through advertisements on professional publications and digital channels. Then it expanded the outreach to include the homosexual community. Lately it is pitching to patients and the response has been sizable, especially given that Gilead has a patient assistance program that helped keep the cost of the medicine low.
From about 60,000 people who used Truvada for PrEP earlier this year, as of the end of 3Q16 the drug was used by 90,000 people for that purpose in the U.S. alone.
“We expect PrEP to continue to be a significant part of Gilead’s growth in HIV going forward, particularly in the U.S.,” said Gilead COO Kevin Young.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) wants Truvada for PrEP to catch on quickly considering that the company is already struggling with weak sales in its hepatitis C mainstay. Sales of Sovaldi and Harvoni have slowed down amid competition in the hepatitis C space and protests over the high costs of the drugs.
Gilead stock is down about 27% YTD and down more than 31% over the last one year.
Note: This article is written by Adam Russell and originally published at Market Exclusive.