- Sales of Gilead's COVID-19 drug Veklury totaled $1.9 billion from October through December, accounting for a quarter of the biotech's product revenue as the rest of its business faltered due to pandemic-related impacts and loss of patent protection for two aging HIV medicines.
- Gilead estimates one out of every two people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. are treated with Veklury as the drug has become standard treatment in the absence of other, more powerful medicines. Cumulatively, about 1 million people have received Veklury, Gilead said Thursday.
- The large bolus of Veklury sales helped drive fourth quarter revenue higher by 26%, according to fourth quarter financials released by the company. But excluding the antiviral treatment, revenue shrank by 7%.
The pandemic is pulling Gilead's business in opposite directions. As the only company to win Food and Drug Administration approval for a COVID-19 treatment, the biotech is making significant money from sales of Veklury despite controversy over the drug's price and actual effectiveness.
But the pandemic has led fewer people to start treatment with Gilead's medicines for hepatitis C and HIV, resulting in lower fourth-quarter sales.
"As we entered the quarter in the U.S. and around the world, the number of COVID-19 cases surged. This had two significant effects on our business," said Andrew Dickinson, Gilead's chief financial officer, on a Thursday conference call.
"Recovery was dampened by our Hep C and HIV medications as people delayed visits to their healthcare providers. And the number of hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 dramatically increased, leading to significant uptake of Veklury," he explained further.
Gilead also lost U.S. market exclusivity in October for its HIV medicines Atripla and Truvada, significantly denting sales of both drugs.
The biotech expects to sell between $2 billion and $3 billion worth of Veklury in 2021, but noted it can't be certain of the pandemic's trajectory as more and more people are vaccinated. Gilead forecasts total sales this year of between $21.7 billion and $22.1 billion, excluding Veklury.
Gilead's earnings numbers are the latest example of the significant business developers of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are generating. Pfizer, for example, estimated it would earn $15 billion in sales from its coronavirus vaccine, developed in partnership with BioNTech.
Moderna, which secured FDA authorization for its vaccine soon after Pfizer and BioNTech last year, has booked more than $11 billion in advance purchase orders for delivery this year.