JPM: Gilead's Milligan talks HCV market dynamics
- The presentation room overflowed and was standing room only when Gilead CEO John Milligan presented at the 35th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco on Monday.
- Milligan is optimistic about the company's HIV portfolio, which is based on a compound dubbed TAF, or tenofovir alafenamide, and the TAF-based Genvoya launch has now exceeded the Atripla launch, he said.
- It was Milligan's comments on its blockbuster hepatitis C portfolio that grabbed the attention of the room.
Milligan told conference attendees on Jan. 9 that the company has seen the hepatitis C market make a dramatic shift, but that Gilead is in a good position to handle the changes.
The executive explained that in 2014 and 2015, the HCV market was full of patients that were being "warehoused," or held off therapy, and many were receiving the 24 week and 12-week doses of its blockbusters Solvadi and Harvoni, respectively, allowing for high market shares for the company.
Yet, all of that began to change last year as Gilead began curing patients of the liver disease.
Now, Milligan said, there's increased competition in the space and fewer patients starting therapy, as well as patients only taking 8-week doses because they aren't as sick.
"HCV is a franchise where we cure people and they exit the market," he told the room. "That makes it hard to anticipate what is next," indicating this might make investors uncomfortable.
Investors in the big biotech have been itching for the company to start spending its $31 billion in cash and equivalents and start expanding its pipeline beyond HCV and HIV.
Gilead has been shifting its focus to the liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and Milligan said the company will focus on those those who have end-stage NASH with fibrosis, a patient population of about 3 million.
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