Sofosbuvir was acquired with the purchase of Pharmasset for $11 billion last year, and it has already proven itself in four Phase III studies. The drug is showing impressive response, and it has lower side effects than competing alternatives. Gilead expects to launch sofosbuvir in the US during the first quarter of 2014, and a European launch planned in the second quarter of next year if things go as expected.
Other companies are trying to enter the hepatitis-C market too: Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) may even be ahead of Gilead with its simeprevir drug for oral hepatitis-C treatment. The pharmaceutical giant got priority review acceptance from the FDA for simeprevir on May 13, while Gilead´s drug got approved for priority review in June 7.
It’s worth considering that the combination between Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)´s safosbuvir and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)´s simeprevir has shown very promising results in the experimental phase, so I wouldn’t discard a scenario in which both drugs are used in conjunction, especially when it comes to patients with severe conditions.
AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) is another serious contender in that competition; the company´s hepatitis-C drug combination received the breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA, and it has proven to be notoriously effective in trials. Abbvie´s head of drug development, Scott Brun, recently told Bloomberg that he believes the company has “a very good shot at being first” in the race versus Gilead and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
Timing is relevant, but it’s not the only important thing to consider. AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV)´s treatment is a combination of four different pills with their own time schedules, and this could be a big disadvantage when it comes to patient compliance and costs.
All in all, even considering competitive threats, it looks like Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) is well positioned to profit substantially from its coming hepatitis-C drug sofosbuvir.
Gilead has an undisputed leadership position in HIV treatments, and the company´s pipeline looks quite exciting, especially when it comes to its huge opportunity in hepatitis-C dr. There is always considerable risk when investing in the biotech sector, but in the case of Gilead, those risks looks more than compensated by the company´s upside potential.
The article This Biotech Leader Is Poised to Outperform originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Andrés Cardenal.
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